Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blues, Blues and Brews

Rigging my 10-weight
Winds and tides looked favorable for a trip the Crystal Coast of NC.  Late October can be a special time on the coast because fish are moving...some moving out, some moving in…and if you find them fishing turns into catching.  My only concern was the amount rain earlier in the week…that influx of fresh water often makes fish hard to locate.

With that little bit of uncertainty I wanted to make sure taking a day off and heading to the coast had some sort of guarantee that the trip would be a success. That’s why we did some careful planning beforehand. We checked tides, winds, forecasts, charts, maps, and reports.  We readied our rods, reels, flies, rigs, lures and hooks. 

Sure, I know what you are thinking…no matter how well you prepare it’s still fishing.  How can one guarantee a successful fishing trip when so many things are out of one’s control?  Simple…we also readied our guitars, microphones, sound system, and harps.  We being me and Will-B.  Will-B is my good friend and front man of our band the Sticky Wickets.  He’s also owner of Will-B-Music and Will-B-Reel’n fishing adventures and is a pretty good home brewer to boot.  In fact, on this trip he was bringing a growler of his chocolate stout and had us a gig lined up at Harrika’s Brew House.  With the beer and music in place, the trip was guaranteed a success.

The Will-B-Reel'n Fishing Team
We fished both inshore and near shore along the beaches this trip, and while we did manage to catch a fair number of Spanish mackerel, they were small.  Sure, Will-B caught a huge toadfish, but because of their looks, you can hardly call them a “trophy”.  I was hoping to get into some false albacore on the fly, but not only didn’t we catch any, we didn’t even see any.  We tried for some speckled trout too, but to no avail.  Nope, the only fish we caught of any size worth mentioning were some bluefish.
So with only a couple of blues to show for our efforts, we didn’t get the blues but rather we played the blues…while drinking brews at Harrika’s.  It was sort of an open mic thing hosted by Will-B and I was thrilled to play a set with him.  Sure there were some others that got up and played some tunes, but the crowd seemed to want more Will-B, and that meant more of me.  At one point that evening, Will-B jammed on the drums while several folks jammed on the guitar and me on my harp.  We even had a dueling harmonica thing going at one point. 

Jammin' at Harrika's
The owner’s of Harrika’s seemed to like our playing and Will-B “warned” me that if they liked me, my glass would never be half full (or empty).  He was right…we had some good drafts that evening, and my glass never reached the bottom.  At the end of the night I got to pick out 6 beers from their awesome selection to take home…best payment I ever got for blowin’ my harp (next to band appreciation night at Will-B-Music!).

So thanks Will-B and Harrika’s…some folks might have been disappointed with just a couple of blues, but add some blues and brews and it was a helluva weekend on the Crystal Coast.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

29er and Holding…

29er and Holding…uh, I mean Rolling

Tbone is 29er and Rolling!
Clouds hung low like a shroud, while light rain fell.  Foreshadowing perhaps? After all, I had never ridden more than 10 miles of single track at one time, let alone race for 14.  My old roadie days, my old roadie ways wouldn’t help me today.  The trail didn’t care that I completed 4 century’s while 29.  The trail didn’t care that I averaged a blistering 27 mph in a crit, while I was 29.  The trail didn’t care that I was closer to 49 than 29.  The trail only cared about beating me…me and my 29er.
Those 29 inch wheels, responsive handling, plush full suspension, would they keep me rolling?  Would they help me beat the trail?  The trail was well equipped too…narrow single track, steep climbs, rocky descents, roots the size of logs, and logs the size of trees, twists and turns, and oh yeah, rain.

Me and My Son after the race

Sure the rain stopped by race time and the trail was in pretty good shape, but it was just a year earlier that a wet log, barely the height of a curb sent me endo, the trail punctuating my fall with a broken rib.  Sure I could tell myself that I’m 29 and holding, but who was I kidding?  I am just a year from 49…a far piece from 29.
But I had a pair of 29’s under me.  I was ready, it was time for my first ever mountain bike race.  I didn’t care where I finished.  I only cared about beating one guy with the initials D.N.F.  I only cared about beating the trail.

The starter said go and I was off...rolling on my 29er.  I respected the trail and didn’t go out too fast.  The trail started trash talking and sent a rider ahead of me to the ground.  I kept my mouth shut.  Soon the trail threw another racer a curve, but not me…I kept rolling, rolling on my 29er.

Aaron took 1st Place in his division
I wasn't last in mine!
I’m happy to report that I was 29 and rolling…those big wheels rolled over a tricky log and allowed me to pass another racer.  I passed a few others, I wasn’t last!  Me and my 29er were still in one piece.  I beat the trail.  Sure the time beside my name was a larger number than my 17 year-old son’s and several folks nearly 10 years my senior, but at least there was a number…DNF did not appear next to my name that day...nope, I was 29ers and rolling!