Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Late Night Frustrations

The apartment has become a vast wasteland. Parts of three different bikes, bike tools, tape measures, dirty paper towels, and an array of tools that should never be used on bikes lay scattered from one end of the kitchen to the dining room to the family room. Anna has long ago decided she has mono or strep throat and retired to bed taking the smarter of the two dogs with her. Bailey, who stuck around for moral support, is running out of clear spots to lay. I am covered in grease in areas I did not know grease could reach, and none of my three bikes are operable.

Yes, I have been playing bike mechanic.

Normally, I am half way decent with a wrench in my hand. But lately, I have become an expert in exercises of futility. The only thing I have successfully worked on lately is my patience.

Many months ago I acquired a pretty decent mountain bike for an incredibly low price from a Trustfundarian college kid who decided he would rather buy an entire new bike then replace his stolen wheels and rear derailleur. It has taken me until this week to acquire the few parts necessary to rebuild the bike because I refuse to spend anything more than pennies on the dollar. In my excitement to get the bike running, I forgot to adjust the chain length before snapping the chain together, which means that it pretty much will not shift gears. Being the cheapskate that I am, I didn't want to use a chain breaker and buy a new master link, so I asked around for two days until the guys at let me use a master link tool today. I busted out the tools tonight and went to work attempting to fix the chain and immediately ran the chain on the wrong side of the chain guide on the rear derailleur. Of course I didn't notice this until after I had reconnected the chain. So now the bike pretty much won't move.

On to project number two!

A few days ago I bought a new bike, a 2003 Specialized S-Works E5 Road Bike. In typical Hunter fashion, buying as cheap as possible, this deal did not include wheels. So I set off to stripping the pedals, saddle, wheels, and cadence sensor off my tri bike to move to the new bike. I set everything up, fixed the brakes, and started toying with the front derailleur. After way more time than should ever be spend on a FD, I decided to fix the shifting in the rear. I couldn't figure out why it kept over shifting into the spokes and then I realized that I had a 10 speed cassette on these wheels and this was a 9 speed bike. This was not going to work no matter how much frustrated tinkering I put into it. I am going to blame these simple mistakes on restlessness from sitting on the couch for 2 weeks, not being able to train because of the flu and then an upper respiratory infection.

But being the typical first born, I cannot simply wrap up shop following a bunch of failures and then peacefully head off to bed. So I fixed the kitchen sink.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Keep Your Head Up

Most of the time while I am running, I find myself staring straight down at the path in front of me. This habit is borne out of two parts: 1. from running the downtown Mobile sidewalks where the roots of oak and magnolia trees have left the path looking like the streets of San Francisco in the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake. And, 2. from my former hatred of running. I would constantly look down so that I wasn't thinking about how far I had run or how far I still had to run.

Washington Square in downtown Mobile by Green Iris. Read her blog at

Often times in life I find myself with my head down. I dream big and sometimes when those plans and dreams do not work out, I find myself quite discouraged. This move to Boulder hasn't been quite what we thought it would be. It has taken a year longer to get settled in than we thought it would and many of the plans that we had for moving up here have not materialized yet for several different reasons.

We have some big things going on at work right now which means in a three week span, I am going to end up working 200+ hours. This coincides exactly with when I really wanted to step up my training and push into the coming season. We have seen some very cold weather here with the temperatures holding in single digits for a while. That is a major problem when it comes to training because I hate both the treadmill and the trainer.

These factors combined with several other would make it very easy to give in to Albert, my pizza, beer, and ice cream loving stomach, and sit on the couch watching football. But instead I have decided to keep my head up. I have worked out a training schedule around my massive work hours and I simply get in as many of the workouts as possible. If I have to miss something, it's ok. I know that I still got some training in and I am going in to tomorrow better than I was today.  Thanks to some great cold weather cycling gear from family for Christmas, I have learned to LOVE riding in the cold. I have enjoyed riding and running in temperatures I never would have imagined training in previously and have only had to succumb to one trainer and treadmill session.

I took off on my run this morning tired from the days before and hungry from a lack of breakfast options in the pantry. I did not really feel like running, but I plugged on anyway. The first half of the run was a mental struggle but as I hit the turn around point in the Boulder Reservoir I picked my head up and looked around at my scenery. I was running on a ridge past an open field of prairie dogs on one side and on the other side was a snow covered lake with a beautiful view of the snow dusted mountains in the background. Just then a pair of bald eagles flew directly over my head coming from the mountains. They were so close I could hear their wings swooshing in the wind. As they passed me they split heading in opposite directions across the field of prairie dogs. They circled the field and then flew back over my head as they crossed paths again heading towards the mountains. It was so awesome I stopped in my tracks and watched them fly around and off while chills ran down my entire body.

The beauty out there is incredible, but you will never see it with your head down.

The flatirons from the Boulder Reservoir. Photo courtesy of David Mendosa. View his other photography at

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The season in review

Well, this hasn't quite been the year I was hoping for. I can't say that I thought uprooting my new family and moving to a new part of the country would be easy, but I didn't think it would be this difficult. After 7 months up in Boulder I feel like we are finally hitting our stride here and settling in. More than anything it seems the move and the attempt to find two sufficiently paying jobs has taken a toll on the piggy bank. We've managed to sit fairly comfortably, but there hasn't been any extra money for racing. So instead of the 6-9 races a year that I'm used to, I was only able to compete in Kansas 70.3. A race in which I did not quite hit my expectations...

However, things could have been much worse. Although the lack of racing meant it was harder than normal to keep my focus in training, I was able to continue training pretty much unobstructed in paradise under the tutelage of Cameron Widoff. That's not too bad at all! I feel like I gained a great deal of strength this year, however without racing, I haven't had much concrete evidence of this. But I am ready to begin my build for a big year next year.

I have taken a few weeks to unwind and refocus and tomorrow I start the long build for next year's tri season. I'm going to make a few changes to help keep the focus for the coming season.

1. I am going to focus more on my run this coming season. As part of that, I have set a series of time goals and run races that I plan on doing over the winter.

2. I am going to be on a cycling team with some friend next year. As of now we are called Tidewater Textiles Racing. Even if they are not tris, the competition and racing throughout the year will help me keep my eyes on the goal.

3. I am going to select a race season that I can actually... race. And then I am going to make sure I pay for the races and travel ahead of time so that there are no excuses to not race.

The overall goal is still to become a professional triathlete. Now, it is time to eliminate all of the distractions.

It's hamma time.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughts while riding

The following are thoughts that I had while out riding over the last week and a half:

Long rides in the middle of a weekday cannot be beat. This is why we moved up here. This is why I quit my 8-5 job. This is why I now work at a Bar-b-que restaurant: so I can ride my bike when and where I want to. So I can train, and it doesn't have to be worked into a commute through the ghetto in order to get my mileage in. I love it.

Bike lanes are awesome! In the past, I have heard of these mythical sections of the road where you can ride your bike without blowing out tires or having cyclist try to kill you, throw things at you, cuss at you or wish that you had never been born. It turns out that they do actually exist in Colorado, and some of them are as wide as the lanes for the cars!

Prairie dogs are crazy looking little creatures. I saw hundreds of these little guys today! They were running all over the place and I was so close to some of them that I almost ran one over (on accident of course). It looked like a hundred little Ollies running around.

The wildlife is much different here. It is still really winter here, so I imagine I will see more and more creatures out, but instead of the only wildlife I see being road kill raccoons and possums and hookers, I saw longhorn cattle, horses, crazy birds and tons of black tail prairie dogs (ok, maybe the cattle and horses weren't wild, but they were cool to see).

The inverse law of cycling gains to cordiality: If you pass a fat slow guy on a bike, he will always wave back to you. In fact it is likely that he will wave to you before you wave to him. However, if you pass a fit or fast guy on a bike, he will almost certainly not wave back. The opposite is in fact true of women. If you pass a fat slow woman, she will not wave to you. But if you pass a fit or fast woman, she will almost certainly wave back and will often wave first. Note: as I typed this, I realized that I am by definition of this law, a fat slow guy.

The ocean and beach are awesome, but there is something special about the mountains. If you are one block away from the ocean, you might as well be 100 miles, but you can see the mountains (and ride into pot holes while staring at them) from miles and miles away. They look just as awesome from up close or far away. 

I am way out of shape right now. I am pretty sure this doesn't need to be explained.

I am really bad about matching my kit - therefore I could never be a roadie. On today's ride (3/5) I am wearing Louis Garneau shoes, with Shimano cleats, Specialized socks, Cannondale shorts, Pearl Izumi base layer, Primal Wear jersey, Giro helmet, Garmin watch, Louis Garneau jacket and, Cannondale gloves. 10 items, 8 brands. Also my wheels are different brands, and my drive train is made up of too many different groupos to count. Matt Cusack is puking as he reads this.

Moe's Southwest Grill is way better than Chipotle. I spent $12.22 today on a burrito, chips and a drink at chipotle. That same meal would have been $8 and change at Moe's. If Chipotle is 50% more expensive, it should be either A) 50% more food, B) 50% tastier, C) 50% better for me, or D) a combination of A, B, and C that adds up to 50%. It is none of those.

Eating that much Chipotle and then trying to ride again was not a good idea. Yeah, that food refused to digest. I had to pedal home with a food baby.

What in the world is a conch shell doing next to a creek in Colorado?? Today while walking home (refer to this post: I found a conch shell laying on the side of the path next to a stream. All I can imagine is that this must have been one very lost hermit crab.

Monday, March 5, 2012

All In a Days Work

Today was certainly an interesting training day. Since November, I do not think I have had one ride outside. All of my rides have either been on the trainer or on a spin bike. Yes, I have been going through addict type withdrawals: headaches, twitching, convulsing, the junkie itch. But, all was cured today!

The weather today in Boulder was supposed to be 65 degrees (!!!). Finally some weather that I know how to tolerate! But, we moved into our apartment just a couple of days ago and I still don't know where anything is (on Sunday, I couldn't find the bag that had all of my clean boxers in them, so I ended up wearing tri shorts under my church pants!). So, I decided I was just going to ride to the bike shop, top my tires off and go. Enter Problem #1: both of my tires were completely flat. Ok, so now I have to find my pump, but when I found it (Problem #2), the nozzle was broken. I then decided to drive to the bike shop to get a new pump but (Problem #3), Anna had already left for the grocery store in the truck. Normally I could call her and get a ride but (Problem #4), I smashed my phone and had no way to get a hold of her. I checked the bus schedule, but it was going to be a while before the bus I needed came through. I then grabbed Anna's mountain bike but (Problem #5), the wheels on that bike were flat as well. So what's next? Her new road bike she got for Christmas. I found a couple of wheels that would hold air and took off for the bike shop! I am 6' tall. Anna is 5'1". This was the closest I have been to riding a BMX bike since I was 12! I received plenty of crazy stares riding a tiny pink and teal bike through town, I made it! I bought a much needed new pump, a couple of spare tubes, Co2 cartridges and tire levers and headed home to grab my bike and set out on my ride.

Once I got going, the ride. was. awesome! The weather was perfect. the roads were perfect. Drivers didn't try to kill me. I rode all over the place for 3 hours and 15 minutes and was doing my best to limp back home, when bam! "What was that? Why is my cadence so high? Why am I slowing down?" Yeah (Problem #6), I popped my chain. At this point (Problem #7), I have no idea where I am. I only know that my apartment is somewhere southwest of where I am. I always carry a power link and chain tool with me, but (Problem #8), I thought that I would be fine until I found my other bike stuff. I guess I was wrong on that account.

Normally in this situation, I would call Anna, but please refer back to Problem #4. So I started walking. After an hour of walking, I found my way back into Boulder then I stumbled upon a bike shop that I did not know existed. Score! I ducked in, bought a power link for my chain and borrowed their chain tool and I was back rolling again! I ended up making it home just as it was getting dark.

Despite the craziness, this was one of the most enjoyable solo rides I have ever had. This place is great! I can't wait to do it again tomorrow!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Proper Sendoff

I admit, since I shared with ya'll the news of the move, my blog, twitter and facebook updates have left much to be desired. But now that it is 2:40 in the morning and I have been cursed with a sudden bout of energy over the last hour and a half, I guess now is as good a time as any to update!

We have known for a while that we were moving, but because of the whole need for employment, we could not tell that many people. After you have decided to leave your job, it is becomes extremely hard to perform a job that you really do not enjoy. But let me tell you, after you turn in your two weeks notice, it get's even harder to motivate yourself to do the work! But in those two weeks I had a ton of work to do cleaning up loose ends and getting ready to hand my duties off to others. I'm sure I didn't accomplish as much as they wanted, buy hey, I didn't do too bad! My last day of work was the 13th and let me tell you, after 3 and a half years of employment there, that was a happy day. Gregg even managed to send me off with a pizza lunch!

However, the fact that I was done officially working did not mean that it was time for us to party. That night we headed off to a local family's house to baby sit/house sit for their 3 kids while they went on a (really long) cruise. We baby sat from the 13th to the 20th and while the kids were great for the most part, I can say with complete certainty that I am nowhere near ready to have kids! I'm not sure I could handle a 10 year old girl running around the house much longer than a week. I grew up with all boys and Anna insist that I never learned to play with girls. She's probably right...

Well we finished baby sitting on the 20th and were supposed to head out of town on the 27th, so it was time to get busy! The plan was to get a camper shell for my truck and load everything we own into the back of my pick up truck, put the bikes on top of the camper, stuff the dogs into the cab with us and take off! Now that is a great plan if you own a truck like this. When you own a truck like this, it means you have to get rid of a LOT of stuff. It also means that with two crazy dogs, it is guaranteed to be an interesting trip! We had already sold most everything in a garage sale at a friends house so we just had to get rid of some odds and ends stuff. But I listed everything else worth selling on Craigslist, including Anna's car and our bed. I also sold a bunch of triathlon stuff I wasn't using any more and hopefully I can convince Anna to let me put that money back into a (desperately) needed bike!

Needy dog 1: Bailey

Needy dog 2: Ollie

The packing process continued on until a giant monkey wrench was thrown into the plans this Monday. I'm finally getting tired again, so I will tell you about that tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A bit late, but BIG NEWS!

Disclaimer: There is a giant crack running through the middle of my computer screen which makes typing and proofreading very difficult. So if you see anything goofy, either ignore it or send me a message. I'll fix it when I get to a better computer and can proof this post! 

Disclaimer 2: Grammar mistakes will not be corrected as I probably won't recognize them as mistakes. If the nerd is reading, she will help me out.

As you are all aware, I have been slacking in the blog department. I promised a blog about some big news 2 days ago and failed to deliver. But as you are about to see, life has been exceptionally crazy lately. Anyway, let's get rolling!

Big news #1

Big news #1 isn't exactly a secret, many of you already know this, but for 2012, I will be sponsored by Endurance Junkie! Endurance Junkie is a high quality triathlon and cycling apparel company out of Belgium. This is a real sponsorship, and when I say real sponsorship, I mean Peter from Endurance Junkie is actually going to help me out! It has been very cool to see the level of support that I already have from this company.

This (official) announcement comes at a great time as I just last night received my race suit for the year! By the way, it's pretty cool getting a package from Europe.

As you can see, this baby is pretty stylish

Not a bad looking door either....

I would post a picture with me rocking this super comfortable suit, but Anna has already ditched off to bed.

And when I say "super comfortable suit," I'm not kidding. This thing is DEFINITELY the most comfortable piece of cycling or tri clothing I have ever put on. I would call this the triathlon equivalent to baseball's Manny pants. In other words, this joker is comfortable enough to wear as pajamas!

Big news #2

Let's go ahead and throw it out there: Anna and I are moving to Boulder, Colorado!!!!

That's right, we are packing up and heading west!  Yes, I know big news, big change (sorry to the few of you that already knew this). I know this brings up even more questions, so let's see if I can cover most of them here:

Why go?

Anna and I just got married back in September and both of our families live here. As much as we love them, this really makes it hard to break away and develop our own life together. Moving will be good for us. Plus, there will never be a better time to get out and explore. This decision won't ever get any easier. We will be back to Alabama/Florida area once we are ready to have kiddos, but for now, it's time to go play!


Anna and I have been planning on moving away from southern Alabama for a while but haven't been able to say much because I needed to keep my job. Well, I put in my two weeks notice on Tuesday so now our news is out in the open and we are headed out quick! We will be leaving the week of January 23rd.

How are you getting there?

We are packing up the dogs and bikes in my truck and heading out on a massive road trip! We are selling Anna's car, so I have been busy cleaning up 10 years ((she has driven the same care since she was 16!) of coffee and make up spills and trying to get little bruiser ready to sell. On top of that, we are having a garage sale on Saturday and selling EVERYTHING that is not absolutely essential (these two reasons on top of still working and training is why I have been struggling to get this blog out). That means we are pretty much selling everything but clothes, bikes and kitchen stuff. It will be tough but I'm sure Anna won't mind decorating from scratch.

So if anybody has any road trip stops we should make between the Gulf Coast and Boulder, let us know! We are open to driving pretty much anywhere, especially if you have some kind of ridiculous tourist attraction.

Why Boulder?

We have seriously mulled over the possibility of several different cities. First of all there was Bend, OR  but for no particular reason, that never really panned out and neither one of us felt right about the move there. Then we decided on Phoenix. One of my teammates from last year just moved out there and it looked like he could help us find jobs pretty quickly. But then neither one of us could fall in love with moving to the desert. I am sure it is great in it's own way, but I like grass.

So then we thought about Boulder. Another teammate of mine lives out there and when I asked her about it, she had a billion great things to say about the town. Then we started seriously thinking about it and I fell in love with the idea for two main reasons: 1. The summer after my junior year of college, I signed a contract to play for the Cheyenne Grizzlies in the Colorado Mountain League. In these college leagues you pretty much live and play ball like a minor leaguer. It would have been heaven for me. But I ended up tearing my ACL, MCL and Meniscus during the school season. All of a sudden it didn't make so much sense to go. The coach offered me the chance to still go out with the team and workout as I could and help with the catchers, but I turned it down. This is the only regret I really have in life. So, that dream to head out west has burned deep down inside of me sense then. Here's my chance to go! And 2. Boulder is pretty much the North American triathlon headquarters. If you look at all of the pros that live and train there at some point throughout the year, it is pretty much ridiculous. If we were going to move away from our families, I wanted it to be to a place where I could really give myself every opportunity possible to succeed at triathlon. I have some lofty goals and why not get to chasing them? After all, there's nothing like laying it all on the line.

What will you do when you get there?

In short, we are going to play. I have had a pretty good job the last 3 and a half years, but I have decided I'm not cut out for the whole 8-5 office job.  So I will be looking for a job, more than likely in a restaurant, bartending or waiting. That way if I want to take a 4 hour bike ride on Tuesday, I can. And if we want to take 6 days to drive to the Grand Canyon or go snowboarding, we can do so without worrying about vacation days. I just have to say "hey Carl, mind covering my shift for me?" I mean, after all, if we are moving to training paradise to allow myself every opportunity to go as far as possible in this sport, I don't want to have an inflexible job standing in the way.

Ok, I'm getting tired and every though there is a ton more to this, you're probably about tired of reading, so hit me up on twitter if you have more questions. 

Oh, and how cool is this label on my new trisuit?