Monday, November 02, 2009

I came to see Willie!

We had the opportunity to go see an American icon this past weekend. Willie Nelson came to Hiawassee and the Georgia Mountain Fair Grounds. It was a great time, a 2900 seat venue with church pew bench style seating. We had straight away seats, about 4 rows from the back of the venue. Fred and Tammy came up from Florida to visit and catch the show, and we were trying hard to have a good time. I say trying, because the yahoos behind us kept talking and cackling in stereo right behind me. After listening to their inane drivel and laughter for about a quarter of the show, I finally turned around and said, "Ma'am, PLEASE, we are trying to hear the show!" That shut them up for a bit, but they started mouthing off about 3/4 of the way through the show, so Suzy turned around and snapped a shot of them for kicks. They made some comments about the "NOISE POLICE" always following them around where ever they go. News flash - if you get told to SSHHH everywhere you go, maybe YOU are the problem!

Anyway, if you find yourself seated next to these yahoos, do yourself a favor and find another seat!
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Don't Recycle!

Tongue in cheek guerilla marketing slogan for the Georgia push to recycle. It just so happens that Jen and Joe both work for the State and are avid cyclists. We've met them before, and they just so happened to be at the Fat Tire Festival promoting recyling awareness. Turns out Maria and Tommy were there as well, although I found them a bit shallow...

Upon closer inspection, looks like I need to have a word with Tommy - he's snaking on my woman! Check out for more info!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Helen Fat Tire Festival

We had the return of the Helen Fat Tire Festival last weekend, after a several year hiatus. It was a great 3 day weekend filled with biking and related activities, to include the Series Finale of the Dirty Spokes 6/12 hour Mountain Bike Race Series. This year it was stretched to 4 races from the previous 3. I had high hopes at the start of this year for having a good race season, but for various health and family reasons, this has not been the best training and fitness year. The races have been in some pretty demanding conditions as well.

The first race was at Heritage Horse Park, and it was rainy, cold and windy. I was the only SGC member that braved the conditions since it was just over an hour from the house. I managed 2 laps before I called it, due to deteriorating conditions and no one in the pits to tell me to get back on the bike.

The second race was at Fort Yargo, and we had the full team in effect, but the elements were HARSH. I finished my second lap just before the torrential rains started, so I headed out for my 3rd lap in the drizzle. Before I even made it into the woods, the skies opened up and the water poured forth. I've never ridden my bike in those types of conditions, and don't care to again. The trail became a small creek, so I rode with the current downhill, and against the current uphill. Halfway around that lap, it stopped raining, and that was actually worse than the rain. There was no rain to wash the quickly accumulating mud from man and machine, and the trail was severely muddy. After rolling back in the pits, I was done - glad to be off the bike and in one piece. That race took it's toll - costing me a chain, cassette, cables and bottom bracket. Riding in the slop is EXPENSIVE!

The third race was in July at Tribble Mill, but I was off the bike, sidelined with a health issue, so I didn't even go.

Saturday was the finale at Unicoi State Park - my hometown trails. Unicoi is a tough ride, much less at race pace. It has lots of climbing and some technical descents. I was nursing a sore left knee from a crash Friday, and went down HARD on a slick bridge trying to avoid the guy in front of me who bobbled. Skidded along the black crud on the bridge for what seemed like 50 yards, picked myself up, went to remount, only to find my seatpost twisted halfway around. Pushed to the end of the bridge, took off the camelbak, fixed my seatpost with my multi-tool and was about to get back on the bike when a lost soul came pushing her bike over the bridge with a rear flat. It was her first race, she was doing 6 hour solo, and she had no tools, tube, levers or CO2. I had all of the above, and decided to put a few points back in the karma bank and fixed her rear flat for her. I finished the first lap in pain from the sore left knee and the newly sore right hip from the bridge and bagged it. My spare tube in Melody's rear tire however, made it the whole six hours and finished 3rd in the Women's 6 hour solo!

So, my racing season in a nutshell was not what I had hoped it would be, but life is funny like that. I'll try to work on the fitness level a bit this winter riding Forest Service routes for endurance, and singletrack for fun. I've almost completely abandoned my road bike for the woods, but I may have to get it back out for some base mileage. We have found it impossible to make any structured group rides during the week up here, so it's been just Suzy and me whenever we could go ride, and it seems we opt to load up and head to the woods instead of fighting with the cars on the pavement. We'll see what next year brings, but it was an interesting year of racing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Embryos @ Burnt Dog Lodge

We had the Helen Fat Tire Fetstival up here last weekend, and it happens to coincide with Octoberfest in Helen, so we had a convergence upon Burnt Dog Lodge by two totally unrelated groups of friends, that just happen to collide in a perfect storm of a weekend. Len & Suzy's old pals, John Pennington and Bill Wellman, who were in a hugely famous band that actually played at the 40 Watt back in the day - The Embryos were meeting up in Helen for a drinking fest and just so happened to give us a shout. The results of that email wound up something like this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

4 Trails in 5 Days, or "Just Another Reason to Throw the H8"

We really are blessed to live where we do. I know I've said it before, but we really feel like we won the lottery after we moved up here in December. I've made the comment to Suzy on numerous occasions that most people live where they do because of their job, but we live where we wanted to and brought our job with us. Not many people can say that, and we are truly fortunate in these tough times to have been able to move AND keep our business going.

One of the things we really love to do up here is ride mountain bikes. Back in Albany, we had one local trail along the Flint River that was pretty fun, and it was an awesome resource that just a few people really poured their energy into to maintain, but it was the ONLY show in town, and it sometimes got stale. To ride anything else was at least a 90 mile drive or more to get to other trails. That is not the case up here in God's Country. We can throw a dart at the map and venture off in that direction and find something to ride. There are SO many nice trails to ride up here, sometimes we get a little crazy and go overboard. Like this last 5 day stretch...

Thursday evening - Chicopee Woods in Oakwood. An awesome trail system about 45 minutes or so from the house.

Saturday morning - Jackrabbit Trails near Hiawassee. This trail is a 45 minute drive just over the GA/NC border on forest service land that is surrounded by Lake Chatuge. Awesome flowing singletrack with even more awesome views. A definite must ride if you are in the area.

Sunday afternoon - Fort Yargo State Park in Winder. A 75 minute drive for us, and the first trip back since Team Captain's crash on Easter Sunday that left her with a dislocated shoulder. A successful return to a great trail system, and we met some new mountain biking friends that like to eat post-ride pizza at Little Italy Pizza in downtown Winder - definite bonus there!

Monday evening - Unicoi State Park right here in Helen. Basically in our back yard, just a 10 minute drive from the house. I have a love/hate relationship with this trail, as it has a BRUTAL climb right at the beginning of the ride that just beats you up and spits you out before you even get situated in the saddle. It has lots of climbing on pretty non-technical doubletrack and some awesome descents that can get really hairy if the trail is wet. We tend to skip over this trail in favor of travelling a bit more for other trails we enjoy more, but this one is a definite fitness test, and it just so happens that it is the centerpiece of the Helen Fat Tire Festival in October, so I need to hit it more than I have been if I plan on racing the 6 hour event that is just around the corner.

I realize this was not a typical week for us, but the seasons are hinting at changing, there is a little crispness in the air on some days, and the leaves are just starting to change on a few of the tree species up this way. It's been a wonderful experience getting to live up here full time, and we are looking forward to even more off road shenanigans in the very near future!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Mountain Bike Goes to the Beach!

We went to ride the new to us Jackrabbit Mountain Bike Trail System today. Just over the GA/NC line near Hiawassee, it took us about an hour to get there. The trail system is situated on the banks of Lake Chatuge and you see the lake from most of the trail system. We got in 16.3 miles of possibly the best flowing non-technical singletrack that I have ridden. The pictures were taken on the "Saba Beach" trail segment. We'll definitely be going back.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Suzy's Big Day Out

Suzy attended a Chicks at Chicopee mountain bike skills clinic led by Norma Rainwater with assistance by Norma's husband Johnny. I tagged along and did a ride while the girls did skill drills. I finished up my ride and watched the girls wrap up their lesson and then we all went for a ride. I volunteered to ride sweeper to make sure everyone made it ok. We did and out and back ride and had a nice sag stop in the woods before returning to the parking lot and having lunch and the girls got swag. This shot was at the sag stop mid ride:

It was a great time, and I think the girls really enjoyed themselves. I know I had a blast.
-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


43 years ago, two youngsters ran off to Panama City via Alabama and stopped off at the justice of the peace in Alabama and tied the knot. Shortly thereafter, my sister appeared, then 16 months later, I strolled onto the scene. Fast forward a bit, and they are still some of the most in love couples I know. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad, thanks for sticking it out all these years and teaching me a thing or two along the way!

-- Post From My iPhone

Fuck the System

So, exactly when did it become de facto to employ a "Home Inspector" for $295 to absolutely wreck a home's attractiveness to said potential buyer? I mean I am all about disclosure and discovery, but damn it all, do you have to absolutely destroy a home in your report - especially one that was built in 1937 AND moved once? All your scathing report accomplished was a scared off potential first time home buyer who will most likely rent instead of buy and a disgruntled and disheartened seller. Can you tell I'm slightly miffed?

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fight Cancer, Win an Orbea Orca With Dura-Ace Di2 Build

We shouldn't need a reason to help fight cancer, but Fat Cyclist is giving us a great one! Win an awesome Orbea Orca with Shimano Di2 drivetrain for donating to the Livestrong Foundation - hit the link for all the details, and let's all help fight cancer - and maybe win a sweet ride in the process!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

All Fixed Up

Mobile Blogger had some sort of a hiccup with the posting of photos from Friday night's extravaganza, but I got it all sorted out now. The images are again my own and SHOULD make more sense now!

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Main Event

OK. Here's the money shot. Grilled Ribeye steak marinated in the Burnt Dog Lodge special technique, sauteed green beans with garlic and walnuts, panini pressed garlic bread, paired with 2007 Trader Joe's Reserve Sonoma County Zinfandel. Enough words, let the picture finish you off...


-- Post From My iPhone


Appetizer course - Jalapeno poppers

Steak half-way point...

And something to tide you over - the girls Friday night camping:

-- Post From My iPhone

Taste of things to come

Stay tuned...

-- Post From My iPhone

Cancer Sucks.

Joe is recovering from surgery to remove a soft tissue spindle cell carcoma from his right front elbow. We discovered a lump on him several weeks ago on a Thursday. He was at the vet's office Friday having a needle biopsy done, results came back the next Monday confirming cancer. That Thursday he was having surgery to remove it. He had an extremely rough patch post-recovery. We weren't entirely sure he was going to make it through it, as he paced for 36 hours without laying down or resting, panting like a freight train in obvious distress. We tried several different drug protocols during that time, but nothing worked. He was even on a narcotic, but that just caused paranoid delusions and made him even worse. Tuesday morning, we had resigned ourselves to what might be our last day with Joe, as he was suffering mightily, and our hearts were breaking and we didn't know what to do for him.

He finally collapsed in the yard around 7:30 am and I got him to actually lay still on his side. I had to come to the office to open up and inform Lloyd that we would not be at work that day and handle a few things and I put a call into the vet's office to have our doc call us when she got in. I went back home, and Suzy was still out in the yard with him, and he was still resting in the same spot as I left him. We discussed what we thought we should do, and agreed to try to move him back inside to try and get him settled on a dog bed. The vet called, and I related all the troubles we had experienced and she suggested that he seemed to do the best on the pain injection they gave him during surgery, and once that wore off, his problems seemed to develop. Since Rimadyl is offered in tablet form as well as injections, she suggested we try a last ditch effort to switch him to that and see if it helped any. Off to Cornelia I went to pick up the meds.
Not expecting anything, but willing to give anything one last shot before we had to do the right thing, I gave him a tablet around 11 am. By 12:30, it had kicked in and he was finally sleeping comfortably. I am so thankful to Dr. Brooks and the staff at NEVH for not giving up on the boy and suggesting one last option, because I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Joe, but we had exhausted all of our bag of tricks to try and help him.

We've lost two wonderful greyhounds over the years to bone cancer. It's a terrible disease that robs you of dear ones before their time is up. Lily, our first greyhound was the first to succumb to this horrible disease. A beautiful brindle girl, she was the first ambassador that paved the way for all the others.

Then, there was my big goofy boy, Mallory.

Mr. Mal picked me out when we had gone down to Thomasville to a volunteer work day at NSRA, National Sighthound Rescue Association - the wonderful place where most of our greys have come from. It was supposed to just be a socialization exercise for the resident dogs - getting them used to people outside of a track setting. Walking them on leashes, petting them, interacting with them, etc. Well, I was handed Mallory's lead for a walk and I made the mistake of brushing him with a zoom groom after we were done with his walk. He and I bonded immediately, and I set about asking Suzy if we had room for another hound to add to our pack. She relented, and the rest is history. We lost Mal to bone cancer as well, way too soon.

Joe is on the road to recovery. His prognosis is not great, the type of tumor he had has a pretty high instance of reoccuring, even after surgery. The option of radiation on a 12 year old boy is not one we'd put him through, so we'll get him healed up from this surgery and just enjoy however much time left we have with him. Who knows, he might be like his cousin Maggie, who just celebrated her 15th birthday last week. I am just glad we will have a chance to spend more time with the boy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Silly Greyhound!

Joe had to have a cancerous tumor removed from his right front elbow today, and this is what he looked like when we picked him up. Quite a sight!

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, July 02, 2009

STAYcation, all I ever wanted...

So, new concept here for us at Burnt Dog Lodge. What do you do when you live where you have gone for vacation the last several years? This time is traditionally a flurry of activity - pack the car, load the dogs up, load the bikes up, load our stuff on the roof of the team car Clampett style and head North. But we LIVE here now! So, what would normally be a stressful lead in to the start of vacation was a blissful non-event. We simply left the office, drove home, and vacation started! Novel concept, but I'm stoked at the possibilities. Very few firm plans, except for July 4th evening at our neighbors, but I'm sure time will fly by regardless. I'll try to keep you posted - this new iPhone Blogger app is pretty convenient for on the fly updates!

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Don't Call it a Comeback X2

Suzy was released to ride her road bike several weeks ago after 9 weeks of physical therapy and rehab from her dislocated shoulder. She hasn't officially been cleared to get back on the mountain bike, but we tackled a forest service road assault up Unicoi Gap. 23 miles later, her first successful ride was in the bank. It was brutally hot here today, but we sucked it up and got the job done. Congrats, Team Captain, glad to have you back in the saddle.
-- Post From My iPhone

Friday night Grilling and Chilling

So, I got the results back from CT Scan, and they were negative. That called for a little celebration, so we fired up the grill. Ribeye for me, shrimp for Suzy, grilled yellow squash, hot crash potatoes and a few beers. Sat outside on the deck listening to tunes and enjoying the evening.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chicken Little, or why can't the chicken cross the road?

Recently, on one of our many trips to area mountain biking trails, we were headed down HWY 365 and I saw what looked like white feathers sticking up from some roadkill. Having just caught it in my peripherial vision, I dismissed it. That is until the next greasy spot DEFINITELY had white feathers - a dead chicken. Gainesville is a large poultry processing destination for the many surrounding chicken houses scattered across the countryside up here. We continued on down the road towards Gainesville, and counted 13 dead carcasses on the pavement. I guess taking a chance on death by speeding car is better than surefire death at the processing plant.

I was on the same road last night on my way to do a SORBA sactioned night ride at Chicopee Trails in Oakwood, just south of Gainesville when I noticed what looked like a feather drifting across my windshield. I came around a bend, and there was a flatbed trailer, loaded down with wire cages full of chickens, trailing a trail of white feathers. I remembered our previous encounters with their not so fortunate kin and made sure I was in the left lane and gave the team car a bit more gas to get around the truck - I didn't want to meet a chicken with my windshield!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Clean Mountain Living!

Over New Year's weekend, Tiffanie, Vonnie, Suzy and I rode mountain bikes up a forest service road that started out along the Chattahoochee River, then started climbing up, up, up, until we finally seemed to have topped out onto a ridgeline that we followed until it reached a big clearing that the Forest Service had cleared and marked as a wildlife feed plot. We turned around and descended back to the cars, since it was getting late. Later, we looked at the map and figured that the road we were on dumped into State Highway 17/75 that leads up and over Unicoi Gap, where the Appalachian Trail crosses. We figured that we must have been close to this when we turned around. That was about 4.5 miles of riding to get to that point.

Suzy's brother Len came up last weekend, and he brought his bike, so we decided to tackle the same route and continue on until we hit pavement. We figured it would be a nice short ride to start to get our legs back under us for the season to come. Well, the 4.5 mile mark came and went, then we continued on until we came to a gate across the road closing it to motorized traffic. Len uttered, "What would Tom Ritchey do?" and we set off scampering around the gate and continuing on. We continued on, climbing and descending ridge lines and admiring the views, and occasionally stopping to catch our collective breaths from the climbs. We eventually came to another gate, which we crossed and rejoined a road that was markedly more travelled, but it presented a conundrum - a fork in the road. Right was a continual gradual uphill path, and left was an inviting LONG downhill that stretched out of sight around a bend. My instincts said Right, even though I eyed the downhill longingly. As we set off to the right, we passed a minivan with 3 kids hanging off the bumper having fun, and I shouted to them as they passed if there was a paved road the way they had just come - they replied, "Yes - WAY back there!".

At least I felt good knowing that my instincts were correct. We continued on, and eventually came to the pavement, 500 yards below the summit of Unicoi Gap. We chose to turn left, ascend the summit, take a few pictures and pause to suit back up for the downhill run back to town. 1.5 hours of bike time climbing the 10 miles of Forest Service roads, 20 minutes for the downhill 7.5 mile run back to town = one hell of an epic ride for January.

Sunday, we topped off the bike ride experience with a hike to the top of our subdivision and showed Len the summit of Sal Mountain, which is privately owned, but undeveloped - so technically we were trespassing, but we didn't get busted by the man.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Times, How They Are a Changing...

Wow. I admit I have been a bit lax in posting, and a LOT has happened since my last post detailing our Vegas trip. We lost my long-time companion, Ri, the lone Brittany Spaniel in our pack of greyhounds, a few months ago. She was a faithful companion who had been with me a LONG time - since I picked her out of a double litter of 21 pups back in the early Summer of 1994 when she was 5 weeks old. She came to live with me about 2 weeks after that day, after she was fully weened. I still look for her, and miss her like crazy, but, she gave me 14.5 years of happiness and constant companionship, right up til the day we had to say goodbye.

We also have moved to Burnt Dog Lodge full time - for those of you that don't know, Burnt Dog Lodge was our vacation home in Sautee, GA, in the North Georgia mountains just outside of Helen. We relocated here December 19, and we also moved our business to Cleveland, GA at the same time and had the doors open and hit the ground running the following Monday 12/22. Talk about hectic times! Suzy & I had lived in our house in Albany pretty much our whole married life, and 12 years is a LONG time to accumulate "stuff". We managed to get most of it on the moving truck and relocated up here. Thank goodness we have a generous basement to hold all of the overflow.

Our good friends from Albany, The McClungs, came up over the long weekend between Christmas and Nw Year's, and The Julians also came up and camped at Unicoi State Park with their kids. We had everyone over for a traditional good luck meal of smoked wild hog from Longpond Plantation (my parent's home). I put the boneless shoulder on the smoker early New Year's day, and we had pulled pork for dinner. Suzy made some off the hook black-eyed peas and collard greens - traditional Southern fare for good luck. We rode mountain bikes several times, hiked a bit and just relaxed and enjoyed good food, good views and great friends over the long weekend.

I'll try to make it a point to post more often in this new year, we'll see how well I do. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and look forward to a prosperous new year!