Last weekend I was riding in the slushy southern snow and this weekend on some sketchy southern ice. Winter conditions can be challenging, both to ride, and to figure out where to ride and where to avoid. Finding “the powder” might mean trying to get out early while its still frozen, sticking to the north faces, or maybe just getting out on the road. This past week there has been a time for all of the above topped off with a ride on Squirrel Gap after a skin coat of freezing rain on frozen ground, just enough to have traction on the dirt but glare ice on the rocks and roots. That was enough to get me focused, and in the moment. I don’t think I thought about much else other than riding on that one, although I was thinking about racing, and getting fired up. I can’t help but think about racing when I ride. To be honest, it’s one of my favorite meditations. When I have a big race on the horizon my rides take on another dimension. Not that these rides wouldn’t be satisfying as is, but with a goal, there comes this obsessive sense of purpose that I fully enjoy. Having the Transylvania Epic on my calendar is an extra special motivation. It may be four months off, but now my winter days are filled with thoughts of summer and speed. I’ve been invited to share bits along the way as I gear up for the race, which I’m thrilled to do. I promise not to stick to the topic.Mountain Biking for me, and my family, is a way of life. I’m a mountain biker first and I could live without racing, I did for a while, but its undeniable that I’ve had the most fun when racing is in the picture. When I’m racing, I’m riding more. I’m quitting work early a few times a week, or blowing it off all together and sneaking out after dropping the kids off at preschool. I’m making the rides happen instead of letting them slip by.I probably did my first real mountain bike ride in Turkey Pen at the age of seven or eight. I rode an orange five-speed tornado that was built strong enough to withstand wheelie drops off the four-foot brick retaining walls onto our driveway. There was a tough climb about two miles in on South Mills River Trail that my dad called “Sam Go For It.” It takes about two pedal strokes to get over now. Being able to grow up in these mountains has been really special. We used to hike all the time growing up, every weekend. Looking Glass Rock, John’s Rock, Shining Rock, Slate Rock, Flat Laurel Creek, The North Face of Looking Glass, these were some of the more popular hikes. Even after years of exploring our sense of possibility underwent a tremendous expansion when we started riding bikes in Pisgah in the early 90s. Somehow we had never heard of trails like Caney Bottom or Laurel Mountain, sitting right here under our noses all along. I’m only now getting a grip on DuPont. Appalachia, like no other place, can hide its treasures.I got into racing as a junior. I had a craving for competition. A generous community gave fuel to the fire, Mike Nix from Liberty Bikes was one of the first to offer my sister Willow and I support. More help followed with team Devo and then Cane Creek. Without the racing there would not have been anywhere near as much riding happening for us.I still get really excited about racing my bike. That may be partly due to the fact that I never really went big time or may be just the fact that bikes are the finest human invention and racing bikes is about as intimate as you can get with a bike. So bring it on! Don’t expect any cutting edge training tips (I’ve just put on a heart rate monitor for the first time) but I will share some stories and some thoughts as I make my way towards the race. Join me for a ride; lets see where it goes.
One of the most highly anticipated concerts on Long Island is finally upon us, which is a triumphant event for many music fans, both young and old alike, for two reasons: its star and its venue.For those who haven’t heard, Long Island resident and legendary musician Billy Joel aka “The Piano Man” will be performing the inaugural concert at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum, on April 5, ushering in a new era of extraordinary musical performances on the Island!It’s a long-awaited gig, and a long-awaited reopening.The beloved venue—originally opened in 1972 and nicknamed “The Old Barn” in its previous life—has been an integral part of the Island’s entertainment fabric and collective history. It has hosted countless unforgettable performances, be they epic sports battles, or once-in-a-lifetime, for-the-record-books concerts.Basketball legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving led the New York Nets to two ABA Championships at Nassau Coliseum through 1977 before they moved to New Jersey after merging into the NBA. The much-missed New York Islanders NHL hockey team, one of sports’ great dynasties, won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. The Isles were longtime tenants before skating to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015. Transcendental musical performances have spanned decades and included a vast array of bands and genres, among these: the Grateful Dead, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Metallica, Judas Priest, and many, many more.Included on that list is the very last show before the Coliseum shuttered its doors for a $165 million renovation. Who played that noteworthy show? Yup, you guessed it: Billy The Kid!Construction on the new digs actually started the very next day following the Piano Man’s performance, on Aug. 5, 2015. Renamed the NYCB Live Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the new and improved go-to spot for live sports and musical performances in Nassau County now features high-definition screens, widened concourses, brand-new seats, Long Island-centric concessions, and revamped restrooms, among other amenities. The new venue holds 13,900 seats.That’s just what’s inside. Its outer façade—adorned with reams and reams of aluminum fins to depict our gorgeous dunes along the South Shore—reminds some observers of a spaceship. (X-Files, anyone?) An additional $100 million will go toward further upgrades and development surrounding the state-of-the-art facility.This week’s upcoming spectacular is no exception to the Nassau Coliseum’s history of stellar gigs, and it too will undoubtedly be one to remember!One of the most famous native Long Islanders, Joel will likely lead all those in attendance along a musical journey spanning his storied career, with spectacular renditions of such blockbuster hits as “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,” “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” “Piano Man,” “An Innocent Man,” “Big Shot,” “The Longest Time,” and, of course, “Nassau State Of Mind”—eh, I mean “New York State Of Mind!”The gig has been sold out, as Joel would say, “For The Longest Time,” but don’t let that stop you from visiting this amazing new concert space and checking out any combination of outstanding music acts coming there throughout the upcoming weeks, months and years!Billy Joel rocks the inaugural gig at the newly renovated NYCB Live Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 5! For more information about this and future shows at the venue, visit nassaucoliseum.comRelated Stories:Billy Joel Gives Nassau Coliseum a Big Shot Closing ConcertNewly Renovated ‘NYCB Live’ Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum UnveiledNassau Coliseum Concert Calendar Booking Up In Advance of Reopening Embed from Getty Images Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York