Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving in the Pisgahs

Thursday morning Jeff and I loaded up the truck and headed down south for Thanksgiving with my family in the North Carolina mountains. Along the way, we stopped off at Love's, one of my favorite road side rest stops (exit 84 off I-81). They carry a pretty diverse inventory with everything from Native American dolls and dream catchers to Christian t-shirts, jumbo stuffed animals, and side view mirrors. Jeff was especially taken with their Krispy Kreme display and polished off a bag of doughnuts before we hit the Tennessee border. Arriving in Hendersonville around 4pm we were warmly welcomed by my mom and step-Dad.

The following day we headed for the Pisgahs. Normally we ride up Black Mountain over by Davidson River, but I decided to try and mix things up and visit the trails around North Mills River. Because we weren't exactly looking for an epic ride, I decided we should try to piece smaller trails together rather than heading up Laurel Mountain where I have spent much time extremely lost due to a slew of bandit trails. So, it didn’t turn out to be the best ride I’ve ever planned. A number of deep stream crossings forced us to backtrack a good bit, and I was particularly disappointed by some significant erosion problems.

Saturday was kind of a bust due to matching husband and wife chest colds.

Sunday we made our way to our favorite loop in the Pisgahs: Black Mountain Trail, to Buckwheat Knob, and finally to Bennett Gap. It was a crystal clear, slightly chilly, Sunday morning and not a hunter was in sight. Altogether, this 17 mile loop provides 3,300 feet of climbing with an average grade of 9% (data courtesy of Jeff). This has to be my all time favorite loop in the Pisgahs, with breath taking mountain views, technical rocky descents, endless climbs, and pristine mountain streams.

Dirty and tired we made a quick change in the parking lot, climbed aboard Jeff’s trusty Tacoma, and headed north to Maryland. Stopping again at Love's, I was disappointed with my selection of generic gummy bears. There really is no substitute for Haribo.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Yesterday Jeff and I met up with Roger and the Sornson's for a nice long ride in Michaux. Every time I ride in Michaux I have absolutely no idea where I am. Yesterday's ride covered whatever area the summer race takes place in. Wherever we were, I am always impressed by the miles and miles of uninterrupted single track.

After a good four hour ride, we piled back into Lee's truck and headed for the Sornson estate. There we enjoyed a hearty dinner if venison chili and libations. Even with a sink overflowing with dishes, a hamper overflowing with clothes, and walls in desperate need of painting, I'm glad we found the time to spend a day in the woods with good friends and beautiful trails. Thanks again to Lee & Cheryl for hosting the day's events!

And as a side story, I find it interesting that, although the Michaux State Forest was named after a french botanist, Andre Michaux, the Michaux family name is also linked to the invention of the bicycle. It seems that the forest's name sake sealed it's destiny as a sanctuary for East Coast mountainbiking. (Read more below)

Pierre and Ernest Michaux:
Many historians credit Pierre and Ernest Michaux as being the true inventors of the modern bicycle. This father and son duo operated a company that made carriages in Paris when they first assembled a two-wheeled vélocipède around 1867. This bike was was propelled like a tricycle, with its cranks and pedals connected to the front wheel. (

Andre Michaux:
The Michaux State Forest is located in Adams, Cumberland and Franklin counties. It is named in honor of Andre Michaux, a French botanist, dispatched by the King and Queen of France in 1785 to gather plants for the Royal Gardens. He and his son Francois Andre Michaux are noted for discovering and identifying a host of flowers, shrubs and trees. (pennsylvania dcnr)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Amongst Brown Waves

Last night Jeff and I ventured over to Capitol Hill to see Margaux's one woman plan, "Black & Kinky Amongst Brown Waves." The performance seamlessly pieced together a collection of poems from her experiences while living in India. She will also be performing on Saturday and Sunday night at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

League Blog

Just finished a report on the Highway Safety Improvement Program and how it can be used for bike/ped infrastructure. A Reader's Digest version of the report can be found on the League of American Bicyclists recently revived blog. If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention! (photo by gwadzilla)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend in Richmond

This past weekend I attended a conference down in Richmond put on by our sister organization, The Alliance for Bike and Walking. Being the loving husband that he is, Jeff agreed to come along for the ride and base his weekend training out of the Quality Inn. I also snuck off to get in some of my own riding, as sitting in a conference all day tends to make me cranky. On Saturday I headed towards the west side of town and eventually met up with the Conte’s ride. It was a gray dreary morning and I was most grateful for their company.

Sunday Jeff and I rode along bike route #1, which parallels the James River and eventually spits you out on a pretty busy road with a glass sprinkled bike lane that eventually dwindles into nothing. I will say that the riding along River Road afforded us beautiful views of the James River.

Unfortunately, the trail conditions were too muddy for mountain biking, but I was super impressed to see a decent network of trails easily accessible by bike from town. Judging by their signage, it looks like they’ve got some pretty gnarly trails. Looks like stick man is about to eat some shit (enlarge photo above for full effect)

So, it wasn’t exactly a fun weekend getaway, but we made the best of it. Oh, and the gods were smiling on Jeff as the Coke machine rewarded him with four for the price of one. His eyes sparkled with the magic of Christmas morning.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bike Safety PSA

With the Bike Rules PSA Film Festival coming up in New York on November 17th, I am reminded of my favorite bike safey flick.
Why don't they make films like this anymore?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Joe Foley Photography

Joe recently sent us a link to all the photos from our wedding. Many thanks to Joe and Maili for capturing our wedding so beautiuflly!
I think this one is my favorite:

Monday, November 9, 2009


Last weekend's alley cat course ended up being a bit more challenging than I had expected. Originally I thought the course would focus around the downtown area; however, James was not shy about testing our navigational skills in the surrounding neighborhoods. Something of an epic adventure, the entire race took about 2 – 3 hours. The race also drew a rather impressive crowd, attracting people from faraway places such as Baltimore and DC.

The Race Report:
No matter what the scale of competition, once a finish line is involved in the equation, Jeff is completely committed to laying the hammer down. As his teammate, I was surprised to find him taking intersections with the kind of reckless abandon more common of my behavior. Ultimately our speed meant nothing, as the race was decided by bonus points rather than by the clock. In fact our commitment to speed landed us DFL. For our efforts we were rewarded with an opened bottle of whiskey and a fried chicken tender. Yay team SchalKelso!

The track stand competition was a bit more exciting. Being one of the last two standing, I went on to the tie breaker. I was ready to bust out my no-hands track stand that I have honed and perfected over the years, but I choked under the pressure and completely lost my composure. I continue to replay the moment over in my head, wondering why I cracked at such a crucial moment! So, I had to be satisfied with second place. I will say, I don't think the other guy was from Frederick …so technically I think I'm the Frederick track stand champ.

Although I'm still recovering from the outcome of last week's mayoral election, Saturday night helped to reaffirm my faith in the vibrant cycling community that continues to thrive despite its conservative, car dependant surroundings. Thanks again for a great race!

Oh, and congrats to Alex and Mike!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Frederick Alley Cat

For those of you who thought Frederick didn't have a messenger scene.... you were right. But we won't let that get in the way of having an alley cat race this Saturday starting at the bell tower in Baker Park! I hear there should be some pretty good prizes! I've got my sights set on being Frederick's first track stand champ. More info here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trail Work Day!

As the Chinese proverb goes, "many hands make light work". Last Sunday, 52 people showed up to participate in the official ribbon cutting of the new re-route on the blue trail and the closing of the trail it replaced. In just three short hours we successfully erased any evidence of the old trail and were ready to enjoy beer and BBQ. Thanks to Dave, Joe, Frank, Darius ....and all the people I'm forgetting to mention for being the glue that holds the watershed together!

Monday, November 2, 2009

We Got Married!!!

Life hasn’t left much time for blogging lately, but now that we have settled into our new house and the wedding has come and gone I finally have time to sit and reflect on all the events of the summer. Among these, I’d like to take a moment to blog about our wedding day. (photo by JoeFoleyPhotography)

I’m not even really sure where to start. There are so many different directions you can take a wedding summary. I could reflect philosophically on the meaning of weddings. What does it mean to have a traditional versus a non-traditional wedding? I could give an overview of the details of the day. Or, I could reflect on the big life lessons that the whole experience taught us. Maybe I’ll try to do a little of everything. (photo by Dave Carbonell)

With so many of our friends and family contributing their various talents to the celebration, our wedding was something of a barn-raising. Becky made the bowl that held our rings. Christian, Mellissa, and Kate played the ceremony music. Joe Foley was our photographer. My step-father, Ted, took care of last minute decorations. My childhood pastor performed the ceremony. Joe Jefferson was the DJ. Jeff created center pieces made of old bike parts (thanks Roger!) and wood from the watershed. I made jam with blueberries I picked in Thurmont. Our rings were melted down from family heirlooms. Maggie laced up my dress with the skill and precision of a world class surgeon. And Hillary created a welcome home mural on the front of our house with shaving cream. Everyone came together to show their support of our union. (photo by David Carbonell)

After the ceremony, Jeff and I walked from the chapel to the reception down Market Street and along Caroll Creek. Frederick’s annual street festival had just come to an end and families filled the sidewalks. Cars honked as they passed to congratulate us on our recent nuptials. The creek was busy with paddle boaters and music from the roof top concert played in the background. The harvest moon hung low in the sky, and Jeff and I walked hand in hand through some of our favorite places in Frederick. I am so grateful that we had this quiet time to be together before the reception as it gave us a chance to truly appreciate the newness of our marriage. (photo by JoeFoleyPhotography)

Weddings can sometimes become a bastardized version of what they were originally intended to be. (photo by JoeFoleyPhotography) While there is certainly nothing wrong with ornate flower arrangements, intricate wedding cakes, and satin bridal gowns, these things are only accessories. I think Jeff and I did a pretty good job of keeping things in perspective. Looking around the room at our reception, each table represented a group of people who, at different phases in our lives, had a hand in molding us into the people we are today. It was through these people that we learned the skills necessary to be a loyal friend and loving partner. I truly believe that a relationship will not survive if it is not based in a healthy community of friends and family. Again, thank you to everyone who was there. And for those of you who were unable to make it (Lorena et al.), please know that you were in our hearts. (photo by Joe Whitehair)

In the weeks following the wedding I spent a little too much time reflecting on all the things I wish I could have done differently. I honestly thought I was too smart to fall victim to this, but I eventually found myself obsessing over the fact that I didn’t have a chance to talk to everyone, or that I forgot to give a formal thank you to all our friends and family, or that I never once reapplied my lipstick. I think this is a fairly common post-wedding issue, especially for women. Now that I have a little more perspective, I wonder if toiling over regrets isn’t more about trying to hang onto the wedding day. Kind of like the post holiday blues, it’s a little sad when the day is over. Looking back and obsessing over things you wish you had done differently might be a subconscious way of staying emotionally attached to the day. Or maybe I just think too much. Now that a month has passed from our wedding day, I am able to let go of these trivial regrets and focus more on the beautiful memories that we will reflect on for the rest of our lives.