Monday, August 29, 2016

Tracing the Threads

The bruises from my most recent mountain bike race took a few days to rise to the surface.  I’m not saying this to garner any sympathy, but simply to explain that a few days have passed since I participated in the 12 Hours of Capitol View and the effects are lingering.

Late last week I attended the Governor’s Local Issues Conference in Louisville.  It’s an annual affair and while I’ve looked forward to it in the past this year I really just wanted to stay home/go to work like normal.  The difference this year is that I’m just about conferenced out, and I’ve been really busy and getting further and further behind.  I blame the temp gig.  It’ll look good on a résumé but I’m not looking to change jobs so what does it matter, right? 

My consolation prize for going to the conference was that I finally got to ride the Parklands at Floyd’s Fork.  I’ve heard about it but knew little of what Parklands (aka, Turkey Run Park) had to offer.  So one afternoon when my sessions had staled I drove from downtown out to Parklands and dropped the Slutty Single Speed to the asphalt and pedaled out toward the Paw Paw and Chinkapin Trails from the Seaton Valley Trailhead.

Seaton Valley Trail from the Louisville Loop
 

First I hit the easy Seaton Valley Trail.  It’s a true beginner mountain bike trail.  It would be great for small kids, timid adults, or anyone basically.  It’s wide and has gentle curves.  The trail snakes along between Floyd’s Fork and an open field.  There is also the option of taking the Louisville Loop paved multiuse trail from the Seaton Valley Trailhead to the mountain bike trails, or parking closer to begin with.  I wanted to get in the miles and also check out as many of the trails as possible so I parked a little further away.

On the Louisville Loop
 

There’s a little climb up from the valley trail on the paved loop, then you turn off on a narrower paved trail before splitting off on the Paw Paw Trail.  The singletrack is new and still has that “needs to be ridden in” new trail smell.  But right out of the gate I could tell the new trails had been well-thought out.  Paw Paw is the first of a stacked loop system.  It’s easier and shorter than the outer loop of the Chinkapin Trail.  Chinkapin is tighter and rougher.  It also needs more riding to smooth itself out, but I have confidence it won’t take long.  I enjoyed both trails immensely, and was pleasantly surprised to find a third trail that isn’t currently in MTB Project: the Hickory Trail.  I went ahead and rode it just for kicks and it seems even newer than the first two.




 

I returned to Seaton Valley with right at ten miles on my GPS and was ready to stretch, grab some food, and take it easy in the room.  I couldn’t help but think that Louisville is a great travel destination for mountain bikers.  It might be a little pricey, but you can stay downtown (or on the fringe), ride at diverse local areas (Waverly, Cherokee, Parklands, and the Mega Cavern) through the day and then enjoy the city in the evening.  There are also multiuse paths, some cycling history (The Wheelmen’s Bench) and within a short drive you can hit other Central Kentucky destinations.

I may have to con my wife into a mountain biking vacation soon.  But I think I can make a strong case because of the proximity to so many other things to do in the L’ville area.

I didn’t go to Cherokee this trip, but I couldn’t help but think about the Olmstead park there and the new and well planned Parklands facilities.  There is a thread that runs from the development of Olmstead’s urban park to the modern Parklands vision.  I could dedicate a whole post to that thread, but I doubt most of my readers (hey to both of you!) are such planning nerds.

Anyway, I’m glad the conference is over.  It ended up being a political campaign stop for the sitting governor.  Still not sure if he was stumping for Trump or for himself for three years from now.  I wasn’t terribly impressed.


I’ll be happy when this summer is over, when cooler weather prevails, and as soon as this election season comes to a close one way or the other.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Warnt No Mountains, but Plenty of Bikers

The Leadville season has passed for 2016.  The run took place this past Saturday.  Members of the Leadville Family are already looking ahead to 2017.  Hopefully most with anticipation and joy, though assuredly some look to 2017 for a shot at redemption.  Perhaps they didn't hit a targeted finishing time.  Perhaps they didn't finish.  Perhaps they didn't even get to line up at the starting line.  
For me I only hope to see modest success for my book in 2017. In fact I just want a positive reception. I've resolved that if I go to Loudonville for the Mohican in 2017 it will be to race.  And I think if Leadville is not a possibility (likely not) then I'll want to go full monty: one hundred miles.
I've decided I'm going to start keeping track of my cycling mileage in 2017 again.  Since I stopped after 2013 I've slacked off big time.  As much as I hate being anal about how much I ride it keeps me motivated and accountable at least to myself.
There's no way I can get back to my Colorado levels (5,000+ miles) without being a full time commuter, but I can ramp back up to my 2013 levels if I pay attention.  I feel like I might be able to pull together general conditioning, diet, and cycling fitness finally. 
I raced my mountain bike on Sunday.  It was Troy Hearn’s 12 Hours of Capitol View race.  I did 4.5 Hours of Capitol View and racked up three laps totaling thirty one miles.  For me, at this juncture that was a pretty good day on the bike.  It had rained like a Mohican rain.  The trails were hog slop.  Racers looked like little piggies.  I crashed.  Twice.  And I’m a conservative enough mountain biker that this is pretty significant.  I have a lot of close calls but rarely crash.  This morning I’m sore.  I have a finger that may be broken.  I have a quad that feels torn except I can walk up and down stairs.
I rode out with the Proofer (who should get dinged for dereliction of duty).  We got to the course right at 7:00 a.m. while rain was still falling on the Bluegrass.  I don’t know why, but I figured the start was delayed so I was in no hurry to get going.  I felt no urgency to wallow in the mud. 
Around 7:20 I took off as the de facto (until much later) lanterne rouge.  I rode slowly.  The first ten mile lap took an hour and twenty-three minutes. It was muddy and slick and just a mess.

 
After the first lap I took a break.  I sprayed off my bike with the hose, cleaned myself up a little bit, and ate a Clif Bar.  Then I swapped for a clean and fresh water bottle and headed back out.
I could tell the trails were drying out and packing in under so much traffic.  Before I knew it I had let the bike roll and was inching up in my average speed.  That’s when I crashed.
It wasn’t much of a curve even.  Not even forty-five degrees.  One minute I was cranking; the next I was groaning in the mud.  I thought I broke a finger.  I thought I tore a quad.  I thought I was going to puke.  I’d forgotten it had been raining for eighteen hours straight before the race started and my muscles remembered every other ride I’ve had at CVP when I could hammer and hammer and hammer.  That crashed knocked the wind out of my sails and my lungs.  I tucked tail and bailed on the second lap.
I hung around the parking lot for a while.  My left thigh was a knot of pain and my right index finger was sore and stiff making it difficult to remove my helmet, fill up my water bottle, and really do much of anything.  I sprayed off my bike again and cleaned the chain.  I dropped down onto the course near the parking lot and took a few pics of racers coming through Ryan’s Gulch.
Ryan's Gulch where Harry broke himeself

A piece of Harry?
 


Gilfy acting as racer, pit crew, and entertainment all in one
Yes, those are 26+ tires
Then Tomahawk saw me. 
“Uh oh!” he said.
“Nah, I’m good.”
By then the shock had subsided, and other than a shallow puddle of nausea in my belly I was better.  I just didn’t know how my leg was going to hold up on the trail.  I figured the only way to know was to give it a shot. 
I picked up the course where I had bailed and basically had the trail to myself again.  The first hill felt fine.  The next hill felt good.  I decided I’d finish the loop.  I knew Mandy was on her way with lunch, and if I could muster through then maybe some real food would perk me up for a few more laps afterward.  The remaining eight miles of the second lap went down without incident. 
My SAG crew arrived and I ate.  Jeaph had rolled in just before I got off the trail so we sat and visited with him.  He had already ridden a few laps and looked beat.  He said he had crashed pretty hard five times.  In fact, he had broken a wooden bridge on one crash. But he said if I wanted to go back out he’d ride a lap with me.
I didn’t want to go home with only two mediocre laps under my bibs.  I needed to tick a few more miles.  At least another lap.  Thirty miles would be pretty respectable for me in my flab-ulous state.
After a good rest Jeaphre and I headed back out on the trail.
I crashed about a quarter of a mile before the spot where I crashed on the second lap.  Knocked the wind out of me despite being a fairly slow speed wreck.  Hit the same part of my left thigh.  Right index finger seemed no worse for wear, though it’s swollen up like a ripe sausage today.
I have stubby fingers, but this isn't normal
We continued on and I worked through the stiffness and lassitude I felt.  It was definitely a benefit having someone else to ride with and talk to.  That made the lap a lot more enjoyable.  Initially I had planned on two additional laps, but after the second crash, a slog up the Green Monster (archives climb), and waning energy I decided to call it at three laps.  Jeaph agreed.
This year was my first time doing the 12 Hours of Capitol View race.  I’ve wanted to do it for some time now, and am stoked to finally have gotten to do it.  But I’m sore and feel a bit beaten down today.  That’s okay, my knees and back feel really good which is more than I could have said after the last dozen or so such events I’ve done.  If I can just keep from crashing…
Something else that I want to share.  While I was out on my ill-fated second lap I began thinking that all the brain damage I spend on trying to find my niche and my community of like minded individuals is moot.  The local mountain biking community, no matter how dysfunctional, is where most of my friends are.  There were a lot of people I know and like a lot that were at the race on Sunday.  That's my community.  That's my niche.
A racer trying to escape the Mountain Biking Twilight Zone
 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Big Sinking History Lesson

I feel like I've forgotten how to love riding my bike.  I don't pine to be on it like I once did.  What is logically strange about this is that I aggressively daydream about building mountain bike trails so I'll eventually have a place to ride, but I don't think about riding as much as getting the darn trails built.

I've not ridden more than fifty miles this year on the road bike.  I keep meaning to but keep notting to. When I do take the mountain bike out I do my token rides and return it to the Bike Cave with four or five or six more miles tacked on.  Then I might go a week without riding.

I need to HTFU. I need to ride.

Sunday afternoon promised to be hot, humid, and potentially stormy.  What better time to head into the oil fields to crank over mudholes, rocky roads, and creekbeds?  That's right, I did my return penance in Big Sinking.

If you've been following me for the past year you'll know those trails I've been trying to get built are mostly in Flat Hollow and Bald Rock.  Flat Hollow is a tributary of Bald Rock and Bald Rock is a fork of Big Sinking.  Big Sinking then flows into Miller Creek which is s major tributary of the Kentucky River above Ravenna.

Now that the hydrogeography lesson is over...

Big Sinking sinks.  That means that right now there is a great four mile loop that begins near the mouth of Bald Rock that utilizes sections of the dry creekbed.  That loop was the site of my first intentional mountain bike ride many years ago.  I loved it so much I dragged Dave down there to do it.  Now, Dave had ridden at Capitol View even then, and rode frequently at Cave Run.  In fact, as we were riding Big Sinking he kept encouraging me to go visit Buckskin at Cave Run.  Which I eventually did.

The loop begins at the arrow and then travels counterclockwise first paralleling the creek on the north side and then returning on FR 226
© Copyright 2016 outrageGIS mapping


I've ridden all over the Big Sinking Oil Field.  That was my earliest mtb haunt.  It's fitting that I'm working on trails in Bald Rock.  And I see loads of potential for trails throughout the Big Sinking drainage.  And much of it is National Forest.  Kentucky could become a mountain biking destination if Big Sinking's potential were only fractionally realized.

Anyway, I drove out to Fixer.  Another aside--I would much prefer to ride from home to ride my mountain bike, but it's forty or so miles round trip out to where I rode yesterday. An. Ny. Way!

I drove out/down to Fixer and parked just downstream of the mouth of Bald Rock.  As I rolled into the valley I noticed the creek was low.  That was a good sign.

In short order I pedaled west, bearing right instead of crossing the creek (which is where I would return to close the loop) and entered the woods along an old pathway of memory.

The ride didn't disappoint.  It was exactly as I'd remembered it.  Very little had changed.  The first half of the loop is technical more than anything.  Of course I'm a much better mountain biker than I was a decade ago when I first rode down in Big Sinking.  I only had to carry the bike around two mudholes and I walked through a big fallen tree that was just too much to try and power through.

Oh, and the Sheltowee climb...

When I conned Dave into riding the loop ages ago we came to the steep and rocky climb up New Virginia Road from the creek which is also where the loop meets and runs with the Sheltowee Trace.  The road ascends a limestone ledge and it's not loose so much as just bare, steep rock.

I remember Dave gave the crux a couple of goes while I simply walked the Cannonball and watched him flail. But then he talked about other guys he knew that would have been able to get up that, "like a boulder problem," which resonated with me because at the time he and I were active in developing moderate bouldering around the Red.  That statement about better cyclists being able to get up what looked impossible to me flipped a switch in my brain.  It was between that moment and a burning re-entry descent of Pot Hollow that I was inspired to pursue mountain biking.  Before that I simply used the mountain bike as a means to expedite my explorations.  After that I began to love the bike on its own merits.

Oh, I also discovered some incredible boulders yesterday.

I finished up the loop strong on FR 226 with a detour up FR 2048 which climbs hard up to a rolling contouring road below towering cliffs. I pushed to the end of the road hoping it would descend into Hauk Branch and loop back on FR 226.  That would have been too good.  I still think there is a connection and will explore a little more next time I go ride Big Sinking.

I returned to the Geep hot and muddy, but not too worse for wear.  My main goal for the day had been to get in some moderate climbing and hopefully clean the crux on New Virginia.  While I got to the stopper move and rode everything after I think I still need to work on my chops before I'll be able to clean that beast.  But I rode more solidly than I have in a long time.  I climbed a lot of short and steep and steep and loose stuff without too much brain damage or muscle fatigue.  I felt like I'm on my way back to my desired fitness level.  I felt like maybe my training has begun.

For what?  

We'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Leadville Saga: Still a Long Way to Go



It's been three years since I came back from Leadville, Colorado as a finisher but with no belt buckle.  I missed the twelve hour cutoff by twenty-four minutes.  I finished though.  That was important.  Nothing in life has compared to racing my mountain bike one hundred miles.  It is a unique experience.

As is writing your first book.  Mine is finished.  In a sense it was finished shortly after I returned from finishing the Leadville 100.  But I've been "polishing it up" for three years.  Time has come to put it out regardless of the quality of its luster.  At some point you can't cling to any kind of notion of perfection.  My book is what it is.  Any continuing dicking about is going to push me over the line of diminishing returns.

Going through my edits as I worked through the final hurdles to publication has managed to reawaken the desire within me to go back to Colorado and claim a belt buckle.  I can't reread the words I wrote about the Leadville 100 and not feel a need to redeem myself.  I'm proud of what I accomplished, but I'm disappointed I wasn't slightly faster.  Three percent faster to be exact.  My average speed needed to increase from 8.3 mph to slightly better than 8.7 mph in order to finish in under twelve hours.

I've not gone back to Leadville in three years.  I've not even tried to get in the lottery once.  Twelve hundred miles of distance is a significant obstacle.  The cost of participating in the race is no small barrier itself.  Even dirt-bagging it is pricey. But the probably the biggest barrier now is our local school district's asinine early start date.  My wife teaches and I have two SAG crew enrolled as students.  First day of school for my aspiring mountain bike protégés was Tuesday.  Leadville 100 MTB is today.  

In 2013 they took the first week of school off for the trip, but since Mandy went back to teaching that's not been possible.  And I just can't go without them.

So what's a guy to do?  Take up political activism to get my state's laws changed to push back school start dates just so I can go to Colorado for another dubious shot a belt buckle?  Probably, yeah.  If that's what it takes.  Maybe that'll be the subject of my book sequel. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Existential Crisis Edition

I don't know exactly when it happened.  And by "when" I guess I mean I don't know when it started or when it ended though I am better able to pin down the end date because that was so recently.

I've cried decrepitude for a long time.  I probably over-dramatize my middle-agedness.  While I am forty-two years old I neither act, look, or truthfully feel old in any way.  There is a reality which says that my body is not the same as it was when I was twenty-two years old.  Compared to many guys my age I'm downright athletic.  Of course there are many athletic folks who are my age and older and who put me to shame.  Their fitness levels have nothing to do with how I feel on a daily basis.  Mine does.

If you're a long time reader you know I was once a daily bike commuter.  For four or so years I rode one hundred miles a week to and from work and then whatever on top of that for fun.  In 2011 I rode 5,100 miles and in 2012 I rode 5,400 miles.  Then in 2013 I stopped keeping track of my miles, though I'm certain it was more than 2,000 that year.  There were less miles in 2014 and even fewer in 2015 and so far in 2016.

My cycling miles fell off after I stopped being a daily bike commuter, shifted more toward mountain biking for recreation, and I also focused more heavily on running.  I had a particular propensity for trail running with an ambition for ultra distances.

In 2014 I ran my first trail race: the Rugged Red, a super tough half marathon in my native Red River Gorge.  As is my obsessive nature I schemed and dreamed of taking trail running to the extreme.  I wanted to run a 50k, and maybe then a 100k, and I had dreams of a hundred mile like the Leadville 100 or Kentucky's brutal Cloudsplitter 100, and beyond that I wanted to chase a FKT unsupported record on the 300+ mile Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail.

Fifteen miles is my limit.

I will say that limit is for a forty-some-odd year old guy who is thirty pounds overweight and never ran enough to be ready for that kind of distance.  So suck on that.

The limiting factors are fairly obvious. There's no mystery to why I can't run farther or faster.  A) I'm a fat slob with no self control, B) I have adult responsibilities which I have not figured out how to effectively balance with the lifestyle I want, and C) I have too many competing goals and interests in life.

I want to be a great husband and father.  I want to be a published writer.  I want to be a successful photographer.  I want to excel at mountain biking (and because there are no good legal trails near where I live I have been almost singlehandedly building trails). I want to get back into rock climbing after a ten year hiatus.  I do want to run long distances on trails.  I want to spend more nights camping.  I want to find a community of like minded people with little drama to socialize with.
I also want to be active in my local community in participating in river clean ups, volunteering as a cross country coach for my daughter's team, in creating opportunities for more people to be active.  I want to help people.  I want to inject positive energy into the world.  I want to make a difference.
Can you see my problem?

There are twenty-four hours in a given day.  I typically allocate myself out for thirty and beg off for mental health after four. Nothing I truly want ever gets done.  Nothing ever comes to fruition.  The cart dumps over and I have to start again.  

I need simplicity in my life.  I desperately need simplicity.

At thirty-three years old I was diagnosed with ADHD.  That revelation emotionally vindicated me from a lot of pent up guilt, but without delving into that issue at even greater length let it suffice to say guilt still permeates my life.

I resolved that I wasn't going to let that diagnosis dominate my life or determine my identity.  I can't say I've been completely successful in that effort.  And maybe dodging the issue on principle instead of facing that demon head on hasn't been what's truly best for me.  I've denied my nature in an effort to maintain a false sense of control over my life.

What being ADHD means for me is crippling inattention, overpowering impulsiveness, and living in a constant state of being overwhelmed. 

I have survived adulthood by developing innovative coping skills.  I escape.  In mind, in body, in spirit...I live in an alternate universe.  It's the only way I can tolerate the sensory barrage that is modern life.

I started this post to explain how my body feels so much better these days.  I seem to have regained a good deal of my youthful energy and strength after being cut off from it for almost a year.  But the real problem wasn't that my body was beat down, though that was assuredly the case.  My real problem has been a malaise of the spirit coupled with the complete inability to mentally focus on my problems or study up on potential solutions.  Day to day life distracts me from the long view. Always.  Except, to deal with the mundane of the Now I escape in my mind to places that are much more desirable. 

I live in mind palaces where I don't have ADHD.  I'm not bad at paying bills.  I can read other people.  I know where I'm going, and I have my $#!+ together.  I don't hate inhabiting a cubicle, and everything I do matters.

In my world nothing distracts me from my goals, and I am focused.  People like me.  I like people.  I've been able to plan and delay gratification so I can enjoy the fruits of my labors.  In this imaginary nirvana I'm never the victim of life and my bank account never overdraws.  

Somehow I've learned how to live with one foot in this imaginary world and one foot in reality.  I am able to hold down a job and even be modestly successful.

What I've not figured out how to do is have a focused dream and chase after it with balance and sobriety.  Too many dreams; too little balance; maybe not enough reality.

When I focused on running ultras I think I aimed too high.  I should never have set a goal to run a 50k trail race in the Red River Gorge.  Or at least not until I had more running miles under my belt.  I over did it.  Pure and simple.

I peaked at the Iron Horse in October last year.  But even then I was fretting over not being able to get in enough training for the Rough Trail 50k in November.  Rough Trail didn't even hurt me all that bad.  But it had burned me out.  

After Rough Trail in November I stopped running.  

While I intended for it to be a short term hiatus it became indefinite.  And since I was out of the habit and routine of cycling I didn't just pick it right back up either. The next-to-final nail in my coffin was...November.  I stopped being active as winter eased into the world.  I told myself it was okay because I needed the rest.  

The easy lassitude of the 2015 holidays sidled into the short, short days of early 2016, cold weather, and less activity.  I was sitting a lot.  At work I was glued to a chair.  I commuted ninety miles round trip each day by car and travel quite a bit with work. My office chair and broken down Honda Civic bucket seat twisted and knotted my back.  

While back problems didn't begin with my "retirement" from ultra running  they definitely flourished as I lounged around my life completely unable to relax.  Ever.

Early winter deepened into full blown five o'clock dark.  Spring didn't bring fresh air or inspiration on my part.  My body just tightened and weakened as the months dragged out.

I found when I did rode my bike I had lost any speed I might have ever enjoyed.  It was disheartening and depressing.

I have a newer car now.  I move around a little more now.  I've tried to start running and cycling again...simply for fitness--and have failed to re-establish anything resembling a routine.  But I have pressed on.

Sometime in the recent past I noticed that my back just doesn't hurt like it did before.  I have some nagging chronic lower back tightness, but that predated the misery of this past year by a decade at least. No, the pains of the past couple of years have simply evaporated. 
 
I have power in my limbs that I hadn't felt in a long time.  I have energy.  My knees don't buckle under merely my body weight.  I don't moan and groan when I get out of bed or stand from a chair.

I'm not complaining about my quiet return to health, but it perplexes me, and leaves residual worry in the shadows of my mind.  What caused my decrepitude...and will it return as unheralded as it fled?
There is an allure to diving back into my recreational obsessions.  I want to rock climb.  I want to mountain bike.  I want to sign up for the Leadville 100 again.

These are not simple solutions to my fundamental underlying problems.  Physical activity is crucial to managing my neurological maladies, but I have to find balance. 

My problems are not rooted in my family, or even in myself, or my job necessarily.  What I fight against every day are the corporate/industrial expectations of modern life in the First World.  My crisis is a First World Problem.

I don't say that to diminish the real and present impact of that world on my mind, my heart, and my soul.  I know I have it good compared to many, many people, but that doesn't make the minutes tick by any easier, or the oppressiveness feel any lighter on my shoulders.  I should be comforted in the knowledge that my station in life is equal to that of kings of old, and I should wipe my tears, hitch up my britches, and get on with my life.

I could push aside all of my playful fantasies and buckle down.  I could do the work, collect my pay, and take my two week vacation every year.

Then I see Donald Trump in the news.  Then I think about how much gasoline I burn every day.  Then I hear a story about how we consume two hundred pounds of meat each year as individual Americans.  I don't want to pull away from my small node of influence in life.   I want to expand it and enhance it.  So I cling.  Except the things I cling to in hopes of changing the status quo are the underlying infrastructure of said status quo.  The corporate clock, the cubicle sentence, the hour long lunch, committees and conferences, and all the accoutrements of our modern society...they draw me and repel me.

I fear being too comfortable in the recent financial stability my family enjoys.  While I have longed for and worked for it for years now, and sacrificed a previously hard won dream to go down this path to financial stability, I fear it.  I fear complacency and ambivalence toward issues I feel are critical in the world today. Comfort makes you lazy.

While my superficial problems are definitely of the First World, my existential conundrum is more universal.

While I desire to untangle all of these threads and sever the extraneous ones, I know that wish is so close to impossible that it will never happen.

If I could spell out my perfect day it wouldn't be an unreasonable life to live.  I struggle to define what I want in life when the answer is right in front of me: I want to be self-employed, work from home, and do good in the world.  I want to help people and live a good life.  Everything else follows.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ramming Speed Friday: Top of the Boulevard Edition

I've finished editing my book Leadville or Bust.  I'd be happier if I'd been able to have a professional edit it and help me polish it up.  I'd have been ecstatic if I'd been able to get a publisher to pick it up.  Or of I'd had a clue which way to go to have any of that done.  I'm poor, and inexperienced, so this has ended up being a DIY book for me.

I'm okay with that.  The whole process of training for and racing in the Leadville Trail 100 was a DIY affair.  So the book continues in the spirit of my quest for a belt buckle.  

If I don't have the book 100% finished by my proclaimed release date of August 13, 2016 I will still begin actively promoting the book on that day.  At this point I'm really close.  I need to register ISBNs and upload the book.  The last nuts and bolts chore I have to complete is to put together my source citation for quotes and such.  I should have that done in the next couple of days.

Once I have the ISBNs I also intend to work on getting into print-on-demand. I really want to hold a physical copy of the book in my hand.  I have been able to see it in its nearly finished state on my Kindle.  That was deeply satisfying.

My first sales goal is to recoup my publishing costs which are minimal.  My next milestone will be to offset the total costs of my racing and travel expenses. Still need to calculate that.  Then I would like to be able to claim I made a profit on the book.  I don't need to be rich just profiting from my writing.