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Archive for the ‘Liam’s Corner’ Category

Linus Bike Grocery Getter utility bike commuter bicycle

G.G. with a rack of groceries.

Regular readers could probably sense a little guilt in last week’s Other Bike update-  while the situation has improved, money has been tight for me this past year.  I have gotten very accustomed to doing more with less and splurging on a bike did come with a little remorse.  However, I am really enjoying riding the new Linus  bike which I have done almost every day since her purchase.  I say her- because today she earned the name GG which is short for Grocery Getter. 

This morning I rode GG with Liam on his bike to school.  He has been expressing some hesitation and a little fear about crossing a busy intersection on his way to school and so I have been going with him until he becomes more comfortable and confident with the crossing.  As we were riding he mentioned several times that he could “get it from here” and then began quietly  dropping waaaay back from me as we got closer to the school (where other kids were walking).   I have been recognizing the beginning stages of P.U.E. Syndrome, or Parental Unit Embarrassment Syndrome  in Liam since the start of middle school last month.

Parental Unit Embarrasment Syndrome

Dale Price used "Costume Therapy" to overcome the affect that P.U.E. syndrome was having on his teenager.

Top research into P.U.E suggests sensitivity to Liam’s budding desire for independence and acquiescence to his presentations of symptoms that may include redness of the skin, looking at the ground and shortening temper.  I also came across an alternative approach that seems to have worked for one family to overcome the ravages of P.U.E   that is credited with tightening the father/son bond.  Dale Price, of American Fork, Utah, has spent the past school year waving at his high school son’s school bus every day while dressed in costumes as a lampshade, Elvis, and Santa, just to name a few.  While riding a bike in costume may pose some technical challenges I believe that adaptation of Dale’s principles holds a lot of promise. 

Dale and his son were even featured on Good Morning America:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/embarrassing-dad-170-costumes/story?id=13783709

Let it begin. 

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Grant Park Criterium, Georgia Juniour Cycling Crit, Atlanta Bicycle Races, Racing, Cyclist

HUGE Junior Field- Can you find the kid wearing a heart monitor?

This past weekend was the um-teenth annual Grant Park Criterium– a plus/minus 1 kilometer lap race around a closed park loop.  Racers ride the course for either for a designated period of time or a specified number of laps before the finish.  This was also Liam’s first “real” race requiring a USA Cycling  Junior’s racing license.  Leading up to the race I felt the compulsion to totally overload Liam with my admittedly limited and probably incorrect knowledge of bike racing, tactics and strategies.  For this year’s Brownwood Bike Rallyin nearby East Atlanta, we elected to focus on just one skill: cornering.  This race had nearly 40 juniors ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old- there were even several teams on hand.  Despite my desire to vicariously recapture my youth or being “That Dad”, our strategy became simply staying with the pack.

Junior Cycling Races Atlanta, Grant Park Criterium, Georgia Pro Races

Liam and Finnis amping up before the start!

Even this proved difficult given the massive spread of ages and abilities.   I limited my sideline ranting to “Get out of the big ring” as he went by one time- Liam has a tendency to want to mash big gears despite the benefits of our constant “spin-it-to-win-it” mantra.  For him, riding in the big ring is the cycling equivalent of talking with your mouth full- not wrong, but something to improve on.   

Liam rode a good race, making some places on a few kids and losing a few to others.  In the end he finished about mid-pack saying to me as he approached from the line “I need to train harder!”

Sorella, Atlanta Women's Cycling, Atlanta Bike Racing, Grant Park Criterium

Our very own Brigette Killion taking 3rd place! (Team Sorella)

Brigette K., one of our fellow Kirkwood Sunday Riders participated in her first race ever and stormed the podium with a 3rd place win in the Beginner Women Category!  We joke that we found Brigette on the side of the road- which we did on a Sunday Group Ride when she had a flat earlier this spring.  Brigette bought a road bike to replace the hybrid commuter she had been riding when we met.  Since then there has been no stopping her!  Good job Brigette- I cant wait to see you in that fancy new Hincapie Jersey.  It also a cycling tradition that if you win a race, you are supposed to wear the medal on every ride for the next 30 days- don’t let me catch you riding without it!  You are awesome!

Thanks to Graham M., Megan L., Brent G.  Jules T., Kieth O.  for comming out to support the Kirkwood Sunday Riders participating in the criterium!  A special thanks to Paul B. for being race-hag with the food & drink!  Good showing everyone! 

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Atlanta Cycling, Intown cycling, Kirkwood Sunday Ride, Atlanta Junior Cycling, Intown Bike Route

The Braves By Bike 

It was hot- damn hot this weekend!  The boys and I decided to venture over to Turner Field on Saturday night on our bikes to catch the Braves getting absolutely blown out by the Cubbies (8-4).  The 4 mile ride to the stadium was terrific- though the humidity was a wall through which we pedaled.   Team Eddie are not huge baseball fans, but it was a quiet Saturday night and I like to make one game a year because that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re American.  Turns out it was a big night for baseball  and we had to buy general admission tickets “off street”.   

Once inside Turner Field we discovered that there weren’t any bike racks to be found- anywhere!  We ended up securing our bikes to the perimeter fence but with the Atlanta BeltLine Night at the Braves coming up on September 1st, and lots of folks hopefully riding their bikes- it may be a problem.  Just to be sure I didn’t miss anything I went onto the Parking and Directions, Turner Field Map and event the A-Z Directory on the Braves website to check- there is nothing about bikes or bike parking anywhere on their website even though there are hundreds of thousands of people within reasonable biking distance to the stadium. 

More information on BeltLine Night at the Braves: http://www.atlantabike.org/beltlinebraves

Kirkwood Sunday Ride

Click For Map & Cue

We had a great turnout today and the morning temperatures were agreeable for the ride start in front of Marchet’s.  There were 4-5 new riders to the group which always is encouraging!  This week we set out to do the “Intown Loop” route of 25 miles through East Atlanta, Ormewood Park, Grant Park, Cabbage Town, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey Highlands, Piedmont Park, Morning Side Druid Hills, Emory, Decatur and Oakhurst and back to Kirkwood. 

We had a hard time executing this route when we did it back in June, so I made a route map and cue sheet to ease the waiting and lost riders we experienced last time….and no one brought them.  It was still a good time with some good riding with good people.  We made the Krispy Kreme on ponce our rallying point to regroup and head through Piedmont Park, but lost half the group in the park anyway, so it didn’t really matter.   We all had fun and met back for brunch at Marchet’s.  Tip for next intown route ride: Sean will print cue sheets. 

Team Eddie Preview:

Grant Park Criterium, Junior Atlanta Bike Racing, USCF Junor Races Liam and Ethan will be carrying the Team Eddie colors at the Grant Park Criterium next weekend on Sunday, August 21st.  It should be a spectacular day of bike racing if you want to come on out and cheer us on!   Liam will be racing in his first USA Cycling sanctioned event, so we are going to get him a junior racing license (which I just think is cool).  He will be racing in the 11-14 Juniors category.  We just found out that Frazier Cycling will be there with 6 other racers in his age group.  We will be studying our strategy very carefully- breaking away, attack and setting up for the final sprint.  The junior’s race is 25 minutes +1 lap.  With the coordinated effort of a Team like Frazier on the course, Liam will have his work cut out for him.  He has the legs and ability to win- he just has to race smartly and aggressively.   Our goal will be to take it to Frazier and make them be defensively instead of assuming that thier coordinated team effort will roll everyone in.  I am excited! 

Ethan is too young to race in the junior category and is still on the fence about the “Big Kid Fun Race”.  More to follow!

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Well, it appears that after 100 phone calls to the Atlanta Puublic Schools transportation department, downtown bureaucrats and Ethans school we finally got the school bus pick-up SNAFU corrected.  It has been said that bureaucy “is the rule of no one”, a more apt description of my experience than the friendly but hollow “APS-making a difference!” greeting I received on each attempted call to see if someone could actually help me with my problem.  But I digress this is a biking blog, not a rail against the system (or is it?).

With Ethan successfully boarded, Liam and I elected to ride our bikes to his school today- a 2.5 mile jaunt from our house in Kirkwood.  There are a couple of major thoroughfares to cross: Memorial Dr., Moreland Ave. and Glenwood.  I have been reconoiterng possible route options since the first day of school with the desire of limiting traverses along these major corridors.  Crossing these busier streets is a bit less harrowing and actually creates pretty nice ride that is shorter than using the busier streets! My main concern of crossing moreland was not as bad as anticipated.

I have also learned that Atlanta Nieghborhood Charter has received a $500,000 grant from the Safe Routes To School program.  Very exciting!

http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/atlanta-neighborhood-charter-school-gets-49992601-for-safe-routes-initiiative

This is my first blog entry done entirely on the Droid, please forgive the mis-spells.

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youth polka dot jersey cycling north georgia six gap 6 three gap 3 atlanta bike cylcing bicycleSo after much pre-ride angst on my part as spelled out in my previous post  Cycling Parent: Fear and Self-Doubt, with additional angst provided by his Mom and Grandma, Liam and I headed up to north Georgia for his first ride at the Gaps this weekend.  We decided to arrive  early for an evening of camping on Friday, prior to the “big ride” on Saturday with an early 8 a.m. start time. 

Pre-Ride

We had our tent and gear all set up by late afternoon Friday when Liam suggested we ride our bikes to the town of Helen, located about 18 miles from our campground.  Helen is Georgia’s attempt at a Tyrolean Village and  as someone who lived in Bavaria for nearly three years, I can say that the Germans are not as into candy, knives, or anything air-brushed as much as shop owners in this tourist town would have us believe.   I was hesitant.  At 36 miles round trip, I did a quick calculation of our likely average speed, estimated time to both eat dinner and do a little site-seeing & people watching.  We should have just enough time to make it back before sunset- so off we went! 

Cycling North Georgia Helen, GA Bike Bicycle

Dinner in Helen, Georgia

It turned out to be a terrific ride and not only a chance for a nice warm-up before hitting the gaps the next day, but also to provide us with a chance to run through some last minute technical skills  and to shake out the bikes a bit. The route to Helen would provide us with many of the same types of roads (no shoulders) that we would be riding the next day.  Also, for most of our rides in Atlanta we are on residential side streets or bike paths.  The traffic on these roads, while lighter was also moving alot faster.  Liam and I practiced shouting “car back” or “car up” to warn about approaching traffic and move toward the side.  We also used the less aggressive descents to brush up on some braking and turning skills for the next day.  After a faux-German dinner we arrived back to the campsite for a fire and early bed time. 

The Front Three Gaps

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.

Liam Stroking Up Woody Gap

After a good breakfast of bagels, fruit and coffee (for Liam too) we met up with our group at Turner’s Corner, all of whom had woken up extra early to drive in from Atlanta.  We were blessed with a cold front which meant almost unheard of temperatures in the  sixties for the start of our first ascent up Neel’s Gap.  Liam and I settled into a nice rhythm and found our legs for the 7 miles of climbing ahead of us.   He pulled up a couple of times and I warned him to to put out too much too early because we had a lot of climbing ahead of us.  Neel’s would be the longest climb of the three  gaps we would be doing that day and as we rolled into the parking lot of the Mountain Crossing store atop Neels I looked back to check his expression- all smiles.  We re-grouped at the summit and did a bike-check (brakes).  I encouraged him to eat a Gu Gel for the upcoming climb up Wolfpen, explaining that the our breakfast had just been burned riding up this mountain. 

The winding decent down the backside of Neels was fast but safely paced.  My new friend Brigette hung back with us because she did not feel confident about her first big downhill either.  We made it safely to the turnoff onto Hwy 180 at Vogel State Park and immediately found ourselves beginning on Wolfpen Gap.  Wolfpen is not as long as Neels but is much steeper with several switch backs and pain inducing turn-ups at several points.  It is also deeply wooded making it difficult to visually guage how much longer  the suffering will last.  Liam dug into the climb and I could see that he was having a hard time with it, but then he relaxed, naturally focusing on breathing and turning the pedals.  I could also feel the burn and was glad for the shot of Gu Gel.  A short time later we emerged from the woods at the Summit of Wolfpen, re-grouped again and made our way down into the valley toward Suchess.  The Wolfpen descent was also taken at a moderate and comfortable pace.

Woody Gap North Georgia Cycling Six Gap 6 Three Gap 3 Youth Atlanta Bike Bicycle.We rolled into the crappy gas station rest stop at Suchess for a Gatorade refill.  There was a group of motorcyclists there and Liam was full of questions about the bikes- carefully pointing out that ours were pedal powered.  The turn out of crappy-gas-station-rest-stop onto hwy 60 threw us onto our final ascent of the day- the “short” climb up the backside of Woody Gap.   Liam was still pedaling strong, though I did see his line start to wobble a little bit at some of the switchbacks- a clear sign that he was getting fatigued.  Our group had already begun the descent before we had reached the summit, so we stopped for a brief photo op at the top before turning down ourselves. 

Now the dividends of the the previous 3 hours of pedalling and hell got to be cashed in with a nearly 8-mile long cascade down the gently winding roads of Woody Gap to the valley floor below.  At one turn near the top we were afforded a view of  patchwork  farms that looked like a green earthen quilt.  I accelerated next to Liam and pointed over too it which elicited a “Whoa!” from him.  I explained that we had pedaled up this entire distance and were going to ride back down there.   About 30 minutes later we arrived at Turner’s Corner General Store to meet up with the rest of our group for post-ride BBQ sandwiches and drinks.

I am obviously proud of Liam for this accomplishment.  Not many adults, much less 11 year old boys ever challenge themselves like he did today.  He rode 36 miles (72 total for the weekend) and climbed over 5000 vertical feet on his first ride at three gap.  This is something I did not even do until last season- and with great difficulty even then.  The completion of this climb is something that will continue to pay dividends for the rest of his life and will hopefully set a new bar for what he thinks he is capable of doing. 

In honor of the Tour De France currently underway, it was suggested that Liam should be awarded the “Polkapolka dot jersey mountain climbing Dot Jersey” for the ride he put in today.  The Polka Dots are awarded to the King of the Mountain for each stage- or the rider accumulating the most points (1st-6th) on each major climb of that stage.  Liam- you have earned your mountain goat jersey.  I am proud of you- on and off the bike.  Well done.

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As I write, it is the evening before Liam and I head up North Georgia to ride with the Sorrella Cycling Team for a loop around Three Gaps.  This will be Liam’s first ride in the mountains.  I wrote about my growing affinity for the challenging riding in the area between Dahlonega and Helen  after a solo ride along this route in  A Day of Cycling in North Georgia several weeks ago.  The basis for my nervousness is multi-faceted; but primarily centers around visions of Liam missing a turn on a winding descent and catapulting over a guardrail, him crossing the center line into oncoming traffic…the list of things that could possibly go wrong goes on ad-infinatum.  These are fears…they are things that are possible, but not  probable.  These fears are also compounded by the fact that I, by my own admission and at times to my own detriment,  am not always the best judge of what is “safe”.  This is called self-doubt.   So I struggle tonight with the basic curse of any responsible parent: fear and self-doubt. 

Lake Tahoe America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride AMBBR TNT Team In Training Atlanta Youth Cyling

Liam Riding up Emerald Bay, "America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride" 2010

Then on the other side of my invisible ledger, I also have to give weight to the fact that Liam is a very strong (but young) cyclist.  He often takes the lead on our weekend Kirkwood Sunday Rides when there is a question on the route.  His bike handling and situational awareness skills are solid and he is not prone to erratic or irresponsible maneuvers while riding…not always the case off the bike.  In fact, none of my fears or doubts have anything to do with whether or not Liam has the ability complete the ride- that is up to him, and to his credit he is eager and willing.  He has put in a lot of miles this year and he should be physically up to it.  I have to remember that he blew everyone on the Team-In-Training group away last year by riding up Emerald Bay for our 25 mile tune up ride for the 2010 Tahoe Century.  In fact, since the start of this year’s Tour De France, which he has missed watching only a few stages, I have seen a new willingness and ramp up in his riding- venturing out several times this week on his own. 

I wish that  this angst I am feeling could all be neatly tied up with a bow and make the decision definitive one way or the other- but that is almost never the case with anything worthwhile in life.  Things like love and passion and courage are never a sum-total of an equation; there is always a stepping off point where we must move through our fears and self doubt about what lays ahead and go with the information we’ve got.   My job as a father is to (safely) deliver a well-balanced, intelligent young man into the world in a few years.   I think that this challenge and riding in general is a move in that direction- so I am stepping off.   

A side note- this is all in MY head.  Liam is just pleased as punch to climb 6000 feet!

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We had quite a group today for the Because-We-Know-You’re-Not-At-Church ride out to Stone Mountain with the Kirkwood Sunday Riders.  Today was just one of those days that made me glad to be a cyclist- we had a ton of people show up (27) and most of them had never ridden with Kirkwood Sunday Ride,  so it was nice getting to know a few folks.  For mid-July the weather was incredible- about 80 degrees and overcast so there was no overheating.   Liam and Ethan were with me after being on vacation for the past ten days and it felt really good to roll out with them at my side.  The boys are becoming so confident and at-ease on the bike, I am enjoying watching them enjoy riding and beginning to pick up skills.

“I don’t need stained glass and a steeple when I got spokes and a giant rock.” -Lisa

Kirkwood Sunday Ride- Rolling Deep Out To the Rock

Rolling out from Le Petite Marche in Kirkwood,  the large group started to naturally form into smaller ability based groups for the ride.  I hung a bit with Paul- it was his first group ride ever and he was really enjoying it.  I also got to ride a bit with Rachel who trekked in from Peachtree City (by car) for the ride this morning.  My friend Wes made the comment that it was a really nice group of people- and it struck me that he was right.  I think the fact that you have a group of generally health-oriented people out for a great morning ride with the endorphins kicking will suppress even the biggest grouches.   We all collected for a specacular group shot before heading back to the ‘hood for a straight-out invasion of our favorite brunch place Le Petite Marche.  French toast sammies!

Liam’s Corner

Today was awesome because there were so many people.  The hard part was going up a big hill with my chest hurting- but I made it.  All the people were really nice- but Rachel was the nicest person there.  It was the funnest ride- I think I did well because I wasn’t last.

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