Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ode to Pisgah

The following I wrote on in response to a rider from Kansas City trying to make his final determination about where to take vacation this year. Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina was one of his top 4 choices.


Climbs that make you earn the sweet careening you'll do on the way down. Air so clean you you'll sleep like a baby. Creeks that sing you to sleep at night or welcome you to a break in your ride. Tall tall trees to shade you from overheating so you can enjoy the -ahhh of Pisgah that much more.

Come east, young man, and leave the crowds and open spaces for solitude amongst the trails of the Appalachians where trappers and moonshiners and Irish settlers once played. (well, the moonshiners may still be there :D ).

Come east, where few dare to trod for fear of the trees and rocks and roots.

Come east, I say again! You will forever cherish those cool mountain evenings by the fire of friendship where your next brew came from the cold water of the mountain stream and not from a cooler of melted ice.

Come EAST where vistas from the Blue Ridge Parkway having been earned by the ride are that much sweeter!

Come east, to the Land of Waterfalls where you can cool down on Sliding Rock or walk under the Bridal Veil.

Come east. There's nothing like it!"

Pisgah. I really love that forest. The first thing I do each and every time I go to is get out of my truck and just breathe deep the freshness of the mountains. By the third breath, the worries and fears and struggles and stress of life have all been evacuated from memory. The only thing of concern is to nestle into the goodness of God's creation and relax.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lots going on

This will be brief so you can get back to work, tucking the kids in or whatever. I'm very excited about this weekend -- I'm headed to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) and the Tsali trail system. I've not been to Tsali in about 4 years and while it's not one of my favorite trail systems, it's still fun to ride from time to time. The main reason for going is the SORBA Executive Board Meeting on Saturday where I'll get to debut some news about SORBA Atlanta that I'm very excited about. I'll share it with you first though ;)

We got a logo! For the first time in it's 20 year history, SORBA Atlanta has a logo -- the first step in redefining the future of the chapter. We're also revamping our website and will be adding new pages for each of our trail systems that we maintain -- Atlanta Beach trails in Stockbridge, GA International Horse Park in Conyers, and Sope Creek at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA).

Second, we were accepted to participate in the Atlanta Braves 50/50 Raffle on August 27 -- SAVE THE DATE!!!! We'll need your help! Details will be posted at SORBA Atlanta soon.

Third, we'll be working with the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Boys & Girls Club on an after school program in the Fall of this year. We'll do this for (6) weeks at the Sope Creek trails and I'm very excited about the positive exposure this will give our organization and mountain biking in general.

What else? Let's just say it: BREAK-UPS SUCK! Makes me wish I were more jaded than I am, but alas, I'm still a hopeless romantic. The Lord is still providing healing and direction and clarity and as long as I stay focused on Him, I know I'll be ok.

Oh, here's another bit of news! Through Atlanta Outfitters I'm beginning to organize two overseas mountain biking treks this year: one to Bolivia and one to Asia. The Bolivia trip will be 4-5 days of riding then 3-4 days of volunteer work with a local non-profit agency that works with street kids in Santa Cruz. The Asia trip may be up to 8 days of mountain biking...details are vague at this point but I'll know more in a couple weeks.

Enough chatter! Now to pictures!
1. Photo collage from the Sope Creek work party last Sunday (pictures courtesy of LadyD).
2. The new SORBA Atlanta Logo

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'n ddedwydd St Padrigs Ddiwrnod!

That string of consanants above is Welsh, in case you were wondering. I am a mix of Welsh, Irish, and Native American (quite the blend -- laid back with a fiery temper)! Unlike some folk, today being St Patrick's Day doesn't change what I normally listen to on Pandora at work. I have a station called Flogging Molly radio and it's a great mix of Flogging Molly (duh), The Dropkick Murphy's, The Pogues, The Coors, The Street Dogs, THe Dubliners, and others. This song just came on by FM and I wanted to share it...

"The Story So Far"

"You always had what you wanted
So leave it behind
And if the glass isn't broken
Then the futures not blind
All that you know means nothing to you
But its the loss of control shatters the truth

Here's the story so far
It's already here
We've made it this far
Sure we battled the spears
But life cuts to pieces
To the wounds from the secrets
Makes it all who you are

Love craves self destruction
It's a blizzard in hand
Lay your cards on the table
But you're not in command
So burn with the fire
You so eagerly lit
Watch the flames flicker higher
Said I don't care about you

Here's the story so far
It's already here
We've made it this far
Sure we battled the spears
But life cuts to pieces
To the wounds from the secrets
Makes it all who you are

Oh it's bitter the pill
That you swallow to feel
I don't care what I lost
I just thank god I'm alive

Makes it all who you are [x5]

That's the story so far"

So that's it, that's the far. We are a work in progress and will only be complete the moment we stand before our Maker. Life is a series of joy and pain -- interesting when you remember we were created in the image of God. We have the same feelings that God does. So why feel guilty about being upset...or hurt...or TOO happy...or TOO passionate about something...or even angry. Just food for thought.

Go drink a green beer today...listen to some fun Irish music and remember that most of it's about real life. Hug a neck today and laugh -- I assure you the Irish are!

Sásta st Pádraig lá!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A journal entry

So it seems when all is going well, I’m too busy to blog anything. When life slows down I have to catch up here. So many things have happened in the last month and they range from heartbreak to joy – literally. I’m not going to divulge the details and I’ll spare you the grief and sadness that has burdened my heart and soul for the last month. I’ll spare you the details of the ramblings that have overtaken my mind and left me sleepless on many nights. Instead, I’m going to share some of what has picked me up and encouraged me.

This last Sunday night, we (Mt Paran Church of God choir and orchestra) led our first quarterly Night of Worship for 2010 for the church. Since I sing in the choir, I knew full well what songs we were doing and I knew that given my current state, anything could happen in my soul. I was fully prepared to break down during only one song, “Be Everything” which we learned from the writer, Regi Stone, a couple weeks ago during retreat. The words are below. What I was not prepared for, however, was to completely be broken during this service. By song #2, I almost left the choir loft so as to not disrupt others from worshipping because of my weeping. Now, I’ll tell you, I’ve seen people break down in service because of conviction of sin or because God is working in them but it’s never been me – not like this. Also, I like to worship freely, unrestrained, focused on the Lord most high. My favorite songs that we sing are those which come straight from the Word, like “For Thou, O Lord” which is a psalm of David which states “Thou O lord art a shield for me. My glory and the lifter of my head!” Others that I enjoy and feel deeply state: God is my refuge and strength….God is my rock, my fortress…I AM your comfort and relief from your stress….I AM your future… I AM Jehovah Jirah – the Lord that provides for you…I AM your freedom – freedom from pain and hurt and despair. Of course, we sang several songs Sunday night that declared these and I needed it.

I experienced worship Sunday night in a way never have before...and it felt good!

I needed to be reminded that God is there when others hurt me or let me down. Even though I knew and experienced His provisions while in Afghanistan – safety, friendship, etc – I needed to be reminded that the Lord is also there to fill the void that was left when my heart was broken not long ago. I was reminded that unless I fully trust Him to deliver me, to lead and guide me, to PROVIDE for me – not just material things like house and food, but love...companionship…security…did I mention love?

So here's one of the songs that we sang that is very dear to my soul:

Be Everything
by Regi Stone

Be my breath, Be my voice
Be my hands and be my feet.
Be my heart, be my dreams; Lord be everything to me.
I can’t do this on my own, I lay my life before your throne, I will follow you wherever you lead.
If I lose sight of the path, be the road that takes me back.
Lord be everything to me.
Be my will, be my way, be my faith, and be my peace.
Be my rock, be my strength
Lord, be everything to me.

Did you see that part about peace? Did I mention I’ve had trouble sleeping for about a month because of despair and hurt? Peace….that’s what I needed. Peace that I’ve given the problems – the hurt, the relationship, my issues – to the Lord. He is big enough to carry that load and I clearly cannot...otherwise, I’d have no trouble sleeping right?

Be my will. Whoa, that’s a hard one right? I learned something there in the middle of the choir loft Sunday night. You know how the Bible states that if you love the Lord, He’ll give you the desires of your heart? One desire of my heart has been to get married. Yes, I’ve questioned that in the last few months and in doing so, would pull away from my beloved. Yet after a couple days of questioning and making sure, I’d be right back in the game, so to speak. Well, I learned Sunday night that the desires of my heart should line up with the desires of God’s heart first and foremost. That’s not to say that He doesn’t want me to be married but when that desire overshadows my hunger and thirst after righteousness, then it’s not in line with what the Lord wants for me. He created us in His image – not as individuals who alone are just like God but as a couple – man and woman – bringing together the complete picture of His character – strength, love, joy, tenderness, compassion, task oriented drive to succeed and so much more! He wants us to be happy and to be complete here on earth – that’s why the Lord said in Genesis “It is not good for man to be alone.” He knows we need that deep companionship – the love of another human – because He created us IN HIS IMAGE. Yet what we struggle with, or at least what I struggle with sometimes, is first being complete IN HIM and staying focused completely on Him. When I do that, I don’t have to try to be someone I know I am – I just am myself naturally! Specifically, when I’m focused on being who the Lord made me to be, I naturally do all these cute, stupid, fun, romantic things that help maintain a good relationship. When I take my eyes off the Lord and worry or question or get stressed about money or my relationship with my parents or this thing or that, I’m not being myself and that affects me and those around me.

Am I making sense or is this just ramblings from a hyperactive brain?

So you can see where a song like “Be Everything” caused me to be broken. I’ll end with this (no O.T, I’m not posting pictures from the trail work today, I’m sorry). I posted on my Facebook status the other day, “Ouch! Clay pot being re-molded here. Construction zone-- ahead proceed with caution!” That’s where I am, friends. It’s been slow progress to this point but the Lord gave me a book the other night by my favorite author, Max Lucado. It’s called “Facing your Giants.” That’s what I am setting out to do. The book is a study of the boy-king of Israel who was not but a shepherd – much like the boys I saw in Afghanistan tending to the family flocks at 10 and 12 years old. David – the boy that picked up 5 smooth stones from a brook in the presence of thousands of soldiers shaking in their armor at the sight of Goliath. David – the king, a man after God’s own heart…who sinned…who was redeemed and shown the love of God. David faced his giant and now I’m off to face mine...but like David, I am not alone. The Lord, my God…my refuge…my strength…my healer…my Jirah…He is with me.

Voice of Truth
By Casting Crowns

“Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand
But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mission Accomplished!


I can't shout since I'm at work so you're gettin' it here -- I just received word from a foundation donor that they are donating $5000 to our fundraising for the Sope Creek trail rehab project. That puts us where we need to be in order to get the matching grant from the National Park Foundation which will be combined with the Coca-Cola Foundation grant that we, SORBA Atlanta, partnered with the NPS on.

What this means is that the final phase of the project will happen this year and that we may actually complete the work sooner than expected.

This is such great news because I ran a fundraising campaign all last year and we only received about $1000. The guy responsible for this donation stopped in the middle of his ride one day last Fall while we were working on some muddy spots on the trail to talk with us. I told him how he could help and he's pulled through. WOW....such a relief! AND it helps our position as mountain bikers in a National Park Service unit.

Ahhhh....there....I said it. I'm not going to be able to sit still today - I'm way too excited about this!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Whew...gettin' busy

Since I last checked in here a lot has happened. Here's the brief:
1. I'm now the president of the Atlanta chapter of SORBA (
2. In November, Team Atlanta Outfitters had our first training camp in Pisgah National Forest and I got to crush a few souls on Laurel Mountain!
3. I have my 2010 race calendar layed out already. Yes, really. And there's an Olympic distance triathlon on there. GULP
4. I am fully engaged in trail projects at four different locations in the metro Atlanta area including two completely new systems. HOOAH!
5. I turned down a job in Afghanistan.
6. Sarah and I have been looking at engagement rings. Yes, really. Holy jeez...those bloody things are expensive. Maybe I should tell her that 15 people died in the process of that diamond being mined and exported to America. (have you seen the movie Blood Diamond?)
7. Sarah and I drove to Kansas and I saw buffalo, the Gateway Arch, and vast plains that make you want to just stop and look and breathe fresh air and wonder why you live in a city of 4.5 million people.
8. Did a mountain bike ride in the Georgia. YES, REALLY.
9. I bought a new truck -- a 2007 Honda Ridgeline RTX.

Had enough? Somewhere in all that I'm still in the choir at Mt Paran Church of God and getting regular workouts in. Whew....I'm tired just writing all that!

I realized at Christmas that my oldest niece will get her drivers permit this year. WHAT? Are you kidding me? No freaking way! Why...just yesterday she had climbed inside the dryer to hide from us and laughed at anything I did. Whoa...where does the time go?

So this year is already packed with excitement for me. I have posted the 2010 event calendar for Atlanta Outfitters and hope to actually make some money off that little venture. We, SORBA Atlanta, are working on completely revamping the chapter and have about 50 miles of new trails opening up that are all within 20 minutes of downtown Atlanta. My hope of getting the largest city in the South on the map of great urban trail riding is getting closer.

As for racing, my season starts on 13FEB with the Tundra Time Trial, a road event on the Silver Comet Trail. Team Atlanta Outfitters will make it's official race debut and I'm stoked about that! After that, it's the Chain Buster 12 hour series, Tugaloo Olympic Tri, and a couple others tossed in for good measure.

Oh, we're doing a team for the May edition of the Tour De Cure in Atlanta. Team Atlanta Outfitters will be riding in honor of two riders who suffer from diabetes. You can join our team and ride with us or make a donation at

Enough writing. Now for some pictures...
1. The Gateway Arch. This photo was selected for the Schmap St. Louis Guide at
2. Racing at the Rivers Edge Marathon in Charlotte
3. Sarah and I after the choir Christmas special