Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trust in the Lord

That has been my mantra over the last 10 years or so.  And every time I do, I'm blessed in more ways than I can count.  For those of you that are in my Facebook friend list, you'll know that I was offered, and accepted, a new position at work.  When I got the offer, I was floored.  All I can say is my company (and my new boss) treated me really well.

I'd been concerned for some time about my future with my employer.  I won't put to many details on a public forum, but the possibility existed that my role might be phased out at some point.  I have this habit of working myself out of a job by making my team run really well.  Which was happening.  And I was unsure of the opportunites available to me.  I happened to be talking to one of our HR recruiters about an other position I was interested in and she told me that while I wasn't qualified for the position I was interested in, I should look at this new position I have now.  It's very different from what I've done previously since it's not a direct support position (like help desk).  However, since I've been working on my MBA, I've known I would eventually want to break out of it and get into something more strategic.

So I did the smart thing.  I spoke to my wife and I prayed about it.  I've been doing a lot of praying over the last 8 months.  I eventually came to the conclusion that I should take a chance.  So I spoke to the hiring manager about my interest and he said he'd consider my.  I applied, and the rest is history.  Mind you, I think I need to do a LOT more praying to be successful in this new job and still meet all my responsibilities to my wife and kids.  But I'll take it one day at a time.

Through much of this year, one song/prayer kept coming back to me that the band does.  It's appropriate, I think, and sort of says it all.  I've been on a bit of a crazy journey the last couple of years, professionally speaking anyway.  I've always felt the Lord puts me where He needs me to be, even if I don't know why that is.  Perhaps now I do.  Here's the refrain of the song:

Lead me, Lord, lead me, Lord,
by the light of truth
to seek and to find the narrow way.
Be my way; be my truth;
be my life, my Lord,
and lead me, Lord, today.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

End of another season

Mountain bike racing season, that is.  Last night I competed in the Farmall Hill Challenge once again.  I must say I was a little (ok, a LOT) nervous about racing.  This course is probably one of the toughest in the area.  All ups and downs with steep hills and almost no time to recover (catch your breath or rest your legs).  I raced it twice last year and once previously this year.  I was unsure about the race after my performance in the first one a few weeks ago.  I raced very poorly and was just exhausted physically from the minute I started.

So of course, I was wondering if the problem was me, if the course was too challenging for me, or what.  Perhaps I'm more of a roadie than a mountain biker.  However, what sealed the deal was when I got an email from Ellen saying her niece and niece's husband would be there.  He was first in his class after 2 races.  So, I figured, if THEY were going, I couldn't keep from racing.  At a minimum it would give Ellen a chance to hang with her niece.  So I went racing for my wife (I'll go with that).

One of the biggest problems I had with that course was climbing.  Hills are pretty tough and the last race I really struggled getting up them.  There's at least 3 BIG climbs and several smaller ones.  Some are right after a downhill so if you're going fast enough your momentum will carry you up the next small one.  But some you just need to power up.  So before leaving work I decided to Google for some tips on hill climbing.  Turns out I was doing it wrong.

On a road bike, you can get up out of the saddle (the seat, that is) and use your leg power to get up a hill.  That's because your tires have grip ALL THE TIME on a road surface.  On trails, you're struggling with grip the entire time since the surface is slick.  And, as it turns out, if you stand up to try and power up a hill, you'll spin your back tire, lose all your grip and momentum, and end up walking up the hill.  The solution?  When climbing a hill, SIT BACK in the saddle, lower your body down towards the handle bars, and power up the hill.  This puts MORE weight on the back tire, keeping your grip.  And you know what?  IT WORKS!  I tried that out last night and got up all but the steepest hills.  As a result, my time yesterday was about 7 to 8 minutes faster than last time.

What I really need to do now is start training for this race next year.  What killed me the most last night was stamina.  By lap 3 (of 3 laps) I was toast.  Every muscle in my body was screaming at me.  And the only way to train for a race like this is get on the trails and spend an hour or so riding up and down hills.  I think I've finally conquered my fear of that course.  I know it well now and was actually strategizing as I was riding as to what line I needed and where to rest a little to get ready for the next climb.  Even the BIG downhill didn't terrify me like the first time I road it.  The only other thing I'll need for next year is new pedals.  I have "clipless" pedals that lock into the bottom of your riding shoes.  The pedals I have now have the clips to lock in on one side only so I can also ride without the riding shoes.  However, several times I had to get off the bike and was struggling to get the pedal lined up correctly to lock in again.  While going up and down hills.  Not too fun.  So for next year I'm going to get the same pedals I have on my road bike that lock in on either site.  This will let me clip back in MUCH quicker.

I think next mountain bike racing season will be MUCH better.  I'll be done with my degree and actually have a LITTLE spare time.  And the upgrades I've did to my bike last winter have turned it into a major racing machine.  Now all I have to do is get in the right shape to take advantage of it.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Something to tide you over

There's some stuff I'd like to post about, but its still in the "developmental" stage so it wouldn't be appropriate to say anything at this time. Hopefully, this will play itself out within the next week. More to come. In the meantime, please enjoy some music from a new artist I've discovered. Her name is Imelda May. I first heard here when I watched the Jeff Beck tribute to Les Paul. Here she is with Beck doing the Les Paul/Mary Ford tune Tiger Rag:



And here she is performing her onw song, Mayhem. You'll notice her band was Jeff Beck's backing band. Enjoy!



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Faith on Fire Rocks!

Here's a couple of videos by my band from our show at Church Rocks on Friday.  You must excuse the video quality.  I could have uploaded a high quality video but it would have literally taken hours to upload each video.  So I went with file size over quality.  However, the audio is great.  Can you figure out which one in the band is me?





Friday, August 12, 2011

Still alive and kicking

Haven't been here in a while but just haven't had much to say.  Ok, I do have some things to say but just haven't been motivated to write it down yet.  I was thinking this morning about stuff going on at our church and I will probably post about that soon, but I need some time to put all of my thoughts together first.

The big deal right now is that the band has a gig tonight and it should be LOADS of fun!  We're playing the second annual Church Rocks event (organized by one of my band members).  Four local Christian rock bands playing a free show in our church parking lot.  Weather is BEAUTIFUL today so it should be a great event. What makes it even more special is that we added a horn section to help out on a couple of songs.  Guess who is the saxaphonist for the horn section?  Yep, that funny looking kid to the left.  This is the first gig I've done with one of my kids and it's quite cool.  He's also looking foward to it.

He asked if he could wear his cool "jazz" hat to the gig.  I told him to knock himself out.  Kid reminds me of someone I know.  When I asked him what it was like to be playing with a real rock star in a real rock band, he replied "I'm already a rock star."  I have no idea where he gets that from.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I am WHIPPED!

Today I raced the Farmall Hill Challenge.  It's a gruelling, no recovery 6 mile race (for beginners anyway) that really tests your skills on a mountain bike on a singletrack course.  And today that course KICKED MY ASS.  Not sure what was going on today since the last time I raced there last year I did pretty well and felt pretty good.  Today, I was dying from the moment I came out of the gate.  I was about half way through the first lap thinking "Fuck this, I'm going to DNF."  But I made the turn to go to the second lap.  Halfway through the second lap I was thinking "Fuck this, I'm going to DNF."  But again I made the turn to go to the next lap.  On lap 3 (the final one) I was thinking "Fuck this I'm going to finish."

And finish I did.  Not a half bad time either, around 54 minutes.  Considering I walked A LOT of the course, that's not a bad time.  Not sure what was going on as hills I know I can take I just didn't have the energy or endurance for.  Maybe it's because I haven't been riding as much this year or maybe it's just I was tired or something.  But, man was it tiring.

On the plus side, I finally got to put my mountian bike upgrades through their paces.  The front brake was sticking a little and not letting the wheel spin freely.  My neice's husband (the bike shop guy) was there so I had him take a look.  A quick adjustment later and all was well.  And holy cow could I go fast!  My bike is rolling better than ever!  And the new disc brakes are the shit!  There's this big ass hill near the end of the lap that goes into a sharp 90 degree right hand turn.  It's kind of scary so I decided the best way to get down it was to just go flying down it instead of braking.  Which means you need to get on the brakes HARD to make the right hand turn.  No sweat.  Brakes slowed me down wicked fast and I got around the turn each lap like a champ.

So my accomplishment today is that I finished the race without crashing, without killing myself, and without losing my dinner.  All major accomplishments.  Next race is next Tuesday but I'm not sure I'll have recovered in time for that one.  Or I might just be crazy and do it.  The course had intimidated me the last 2 times I raced it and there was some fear going into today.  However, while riding today, the thing that was kicking my ass was not fear of the course, but my body.  My legs and lungs just weren't up to the task today.  But the rest of it?  Challenging yes, need to be careful in some spots, yes, but scary?  Not any more.  Even that big hill that scared the piss out of me is only scary at the top.  Once you're in the track and you let go of the brakes you go down it so fast you don't have time to be scared.  You're more worried about making the turn right after it.

I'm going to rest all the tired muscles in my body now.  Because almost all of them hurt.