Monday, June 22, 2009

Cowbell Challenge Marathon 2009

I guess there is a first time for everything. First time riding a bike, first time racing...first time winning, first time losing...but I have never, ever in my life quit in a mountain bike race like I did in the Cowbell. Everything was going perfectly as planned. Arrived the night before and I had the wifey and child there to help out in the pit, excellent nights sleep at the Homewood suites the night before...I even had our pit tent already setup on Friday. Although my preride of the course should have been an indicator of the problems I would be facing on Saturday, I was too excited with the idea of my first SS marathon. Did I mention I busted a spoke during that preride? bad omen?....

So, Saturday morning comes like a typical race morning usually does come, fast and blurry. Before we knew it, we were driving from our hotel out to Fisher Farms 10 minutes behind schedule...Justin was waiting to get his numberplate from me and was ready to go...I was slapping stuff on and noticing all the madness going on around me...It was an awesome turnout! Pros in attendance were Harlan Price, Dejay Birtch, John "Fuzzy" Milnes, Dave Hall, Rich Dillen(Team Dicky)...So with all this madness going on I start to realize it is only 9am and the heat is already off the charts! We finally get shuttled into town and the race starts. The first part of the race has us flying through town for about 6.5 miles along backroads and greenways and all you hear are the townspeople ringing cowbells which is really neat! Spinning like a madman, I start to find my pedaling start/stop points since the rolling hills give me some needed momentum. Finally we arrive at Fisher Farms via the back entrance which corrals us over the hardest of the 2 ending loop climbs right from the start....immediately a bottleneck occurs and geared riders all around me start dropping straight into their granny gears...i only make it halfway up the hill climbing since there is too much traffic in front of me and immediately unclip and start running my bike up through spinny gearies...I make it up the climb and out of the woods in good shape, but right before you cross through the starting checkpoint, you have to pass through the Kudzu corridor...I have never realized just how much heat kudzu traps, but it is similar to laying out in 100+ degree weather on top of aluminum foil...radiant, pulsing heat. It just takes the fight right out of you. I get bottlenecked again and jump off and start running my bike up and out of the kudzu...My body at this point is pouring sweat out by the gallons trying to cool off and this is just entering the first lap! Not good.

Laps 1-3 are a blur...they went by smooth, hot and not that easy, but they did go by...Lots of twisty, turny rooty slippery singletrack. Twitch cramps waiting to happen everytime I slid across roots....deep gultches with skinny rail crossings....log piles everywhere, dropoff bridges, off camber singletrack, slippery grass turns, open field scortching heat, rock gardens, more rock gardens, slippery punchy name it, this course had it...a true challenge....

Lap 3 saw me finally entering a zone, but something still did not feel legs were still not altogether there and I was just not wanting to be there really had me concerned. I roll back to the pit upon entering lap#4 and realize I am not alone...I hear many rumours of others quitting, such as Dejay Birtch, Rich Dillen and still many more who had not made it through lap I am thinking ok, I am not crazy or totally weak, this heat is insane! I relax, drink lots of water, load up with Perpetuum, endurolytes and another bottle of cold water on my back to drop my core temp down a bit and roll out for Deathmarch Lap 4. This lap hit me hard....I went out slow because I had just eaten a potato to see if it would help restore my system levels, but nothing was processing anymore...I spent more time in the switchback hanging off trees and trying to focus on the trail ahead that I knew, this would be it for me. It was nasty hot when entering the open fields and jungle heat emanated from the woods. There was no shelter to be found. I continued onwards conserving energy at all times. Everytime I saw a hill, I walked, switchbacks were taken with great care and my overall pace came to a crawl...So many riders were passed at this point who were keeled over with cramps and heat exhaustion, it started to look like a warzone. I saw EMS pulling a few riders out with IVs to rehydrate them. Upon passing through the final stretch of kudzu, I decided I would take a long break in the pits this time around before thinking of Lap 5.

Upon arriving at the pits, I saw someone there who surprised me entirely. Justin Fisher, who was sharing our pits, was zonked in a corner with a look of total confusion on his face. I knew immediately what happened. Heat exhaustion had hit him hard. I took this as the final sign. I got off my bike and started downing cold liquids. I sat there for about 10 minutes staring off into space deciding what I should do next...I then started to feel stiff. In a final fleeting moment of panic, I got up and decided to try and roll through lap 5. Justin thought if he tagged along behind me that he would find his legs again and hold his strong lead on his race class. It was weird having Justin trail me since he is usually miles in front of me, but I rode on through the technicals using reserve energy in spots I should not be using it, but my mind was not thinking clearly. I should not even be out here anymore. Justin yoyos back and forth catching up to me on flats and from my quick glances appears sluggish and not in total control. After about 2-3 miles, I ask Justin if he is feeling any better and he immediately replies loudly NO...I take that as the final marker and throw in the towel. I cut off the trail and decide for both of us that it is time to head back to camp. It is at this point that Dave Hall comes flying by pedaling with some insane determination to finish this lap. That was me getting pushed out of third place at the time...So I realize I won't even get a Cowbell for this effort and really decide to stop, drop and roll...Justin and I walk back to camp stunned by the amount of heat still smashing us in the face....We arrive, cool down and watch one rider after another stumble in. Because of the record 115 degree heat, DNFs were not recorded and places and times continued. This is great for me since I did not want a DNF on my records...but deep down inside, I gave up the fight...but only to be able to fight another day...8th place in my first Singlespeed marathon...better than dead last i guess...until next year...lessons learned...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tour Divide

There is an amazing race going on right now as we speak. The Great Tour Divide This race is basically a little under 3000miles(yes thousand!) which starts in Canada and ends up at the Mexican border. Unreal! It is touted as the longest, most challenging MTB race on the planet. I am definitely interested in this. It is fully self-supported racing with some of the best scenery you can only find while doing an event like this. Not only is the race extreme and unlike most sprint races, the technology for following your favorite rider or all of the riders is soooo powerful! They are all carrying SPOT devices to ping back their location to a centralized computer server which serves the location request via Google maps.

+1 for insane pedal power!

Check out the leaderboard:


Monday, June 15, 2009

Le Tour de Cure....part deux

Ok, I really, really underestimated the Tour de Cure this year...IT was much harder than I was anticipating. Fun, but surprisingly difficult. I never knew Irmo, SC had so many hills. I did plan it out pretty well this year by getting a room ahead of time to rest up for a full day of road riding, but never planned on climbing in and out of the saddle all day long. The Tour de Cure occurred on Saturday, June 13, 2009. It was a nice cool 8am start with a surprisingly large crowd. I was riding with team "Low Country Fat Tire Freaks". All were present and accounted for. Luke Farrow rode up with me late Friday night as he was planning on completing his first semi-metric century (60ish miles). I really knew the heat was going to be my worst enemy all day long, but had not factored in the amount of climbing I would be doing. So just like that, we were off and running with no real idea of what was in store. I started slow to keep myself in check and not try and go chasing after the lead pack because this was not a race, it was a ride....That kind of focus worked great until about a few miles in and I realized the heat was only going to get worse. I started to unconsciously up my pace trying to find a moderate paceline to keep me moving but not have to work so hard. The first thing I realized was that riding with more experienced riders than myself, such as the Lowcountry Volkswagon Team, I was able to more comfortably understand when it was time to shift the paceline. I other words, I had become somewhat of a "cyclist snob". Some of the riders I was riding around were noticeably less experienced in holding a steady line and it made me nervous. I knew this would expend more energy by trying to hold a slow line in a dangerous pack, so I broke away from the mid pack and started trying to chase down the leadpack alone. I was feeling good about 40 miles in, so I kept a great 18-22mph pace. The winds were relatively calm which was why it was so dang hot, but helped with riding solo. I picked up another fast guy who was also looking to chase down a more organized pack, so we started a duo-paceline. It worked out really well for the next 20 miles, but shortly afterwards, I started to feel my legs fade a little, and ran very low on water, so I made the decision to stop at a rest stop and refuel. I mentioned to the other rider that I was fading and I may not be able to ride further with him. About 10 miles in, I had realized I forgot to turn on my GPS again, doh! Shortly afterwards, we picked up a third rider and although he seemed to undertstand how tired I already was, once we got moving again he wanted to try and push me harder. I dropped the group and watched them sprint away like there was a only 5 miles left. I dropped my pace down considerably and focused on keeping my heartrate in zone 3 and taking it easy on the climbs. I actually ran across Nick Latto, our team captain, on the next to last rest stop. He had taken a wrong turn somewhere and was looking at only completing around 80 miles today...which is still NOT bad at all! My strategy really worked well for me in terms of energy control. I felt great coming back into town and started to pass a ton of people who had entirely blown up from going out too hard in the beginning. I tapped into my reserve energy at 10 miles to go and broke away from all the trailing people trying to draft on my tail. I held it all the way up to the finish and rode right up to the lunch counter to fix myself up a plate of some good food! Surprisingly, the guys who had dropped me earlier finished 5 minutes after I did....interesting. Don Watts and Luke had already completed their ride and were in great shape! Beers were consumed and food was devoured. Excellent end to a great ride! What a great day!



Garmin GPS recap:

Check out this Garmin Connect activity: Tour de Cure Century - Irmo, SC
Tour de Cure Century - Irmo, SC

If you are experiencing problems with the link, copy and paste the following URL directly into your Internet browser

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ay-Up Lights!

I just got my new lights for the fall night racing season in the mail today! Direct from Australia! Less than a week shipped direct. Unreal! I did not expect these lights for about a month. The lights come from a company called AY UP! The lights cannot be described with words alone...they are TINY. True LEDs with Lipo Battery Packs. These guys really, really know how to build light kits. The kits come with a neoprene bag to store all items properly for maximum organization leading up to a race event. I ordered the MTB kit with 2 lights all for around $300, which I believe is a fantastic deal. 12 hours of battery life, fully waterproof, and very low weight unlike most of the other brands! They came highly recommended so I will be running them for the entire season. Did I mention they are anodized in some really cool colors? I am stoked! I almost want to go ride around in the dark tonite just to test them out, but I am in rest mode and cannot ride my bike today. I will however put the mounts on my bike and get it ready for my next night riding session...I will probably writeup a followup report later on to really let everyone know how well these puppies work. In the meantime, I wonder what AY UP means.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Singles Night #2

Singles Night #2 ...ahh yes...another memorable race meet...

I had ridden my road bike for about 2.5 hours earlier around noon to make sure all was in working order since I have the Tour de Cure century coming up this Saturday and I wanted to really put in a decent ride for that event. With this said, you can probably already tell I was not entirely prepared for the race that evening. I made my way out to the race with SS changes consisting of taller gearing, 36x17, and the Reba Race back on to get used to her since this is the fork I have selected for the Cowbell Challenge on Jun 20th. I was hoping the taller gearing would really let me put a gap between my opponents when I reached the flats, but little did I know nature had just thrown a monkey wrench into things. An hour or so before arriving to Marrington, it had rained/downpoured in that general area. This means the trail was not going to hook-up at all! This also meant my taller gearing was going to grind my legs to a pulp with all the stopping and starting I would now be doing in every approached corner...things were definitely not going my way this week. So, once again, I changed my strategy on-the-fly and decided to just ride a steady even pace.

Did I mention this weeks line-up of heavy hitters? Yeah, we had a great race in store today! Last weeks winner, Joe Pelton from Columbia was there to defend his title, Justin Fisher was present and looking hungry for a win...Brad Phillips had somehow managed to cobble his SingleSpeed back together to try and reclaim some of his dignity, Robby Bennett had his machine tuned and ready, Sean Mehaffey was back for more with some comtemplation of fully converting to SS...

Seems like I was not the only one looking for an edge on speed. These spy photos taken of my competitors rides show they are all running taller gears in hopes of keeping up an exceptional pace.

Some others were employing alternative ways to go faster such as wasp venom injection taken 10 minutes before the start, no I would not count this as a "technical violation" just yet....would we? Maybe we may just need to have everyone "tested" after finishing here as well?

So we decide the course, clockwise, roll out in a nice orderly calm fashion and decide to do a gradual rolling start...We all unconciously sort each other out and then like he was reading my mind, Robby Bennett blasts out of nowhere from the back of the pack and mixes everything up which really makes the racehorses twitchy...sensing this edginess, I jump out of line and rocket up behind Robby laughing all the way since there is no way in hell I am going to go fast today, especially with the mud already starting to fly everywhere. MY first thought as we enter the singletrack is: BE CAREFUL, Do NOT crash. Of Course Robby was on a mission and spills almost immediately upon touching the first bridge which rolls like ice because of the wetness. I slow to a stop see him laughing and not in pain, so I unclip and run-launch around him. I feel others do the same behind me and I suspect the race is now officially on! Off I tear like a rabbit in pursuit only to realize I do not have a bit of traction. Upon Approaching the first turn I goto lightly bank and find myself still sliding forwards. I run up and into the bushes and whiplash out of the turn hangning onto the lead by inches...Behind me I hear Justin mutter something about staying on the course and then he asks me if I am already blown up from starting out too strong. I cannot think of a reply since I am just trying to avoid slamming facedown into the mud. I try a little harder to separate myself from the racehorses to my backside, but I feel it is a downward spiral today, so I quickly swallow my pride and yield. Immediately almost instinctively, Justin takes the opening, shortly followed by Joe and then finally Brad. I feel the pressure let off but the trail is still nowhere near rideable. I try like mad to trail them, but slide out of a corner and almost lose it. I trim the speed and find my pace. Heartrate was not a pretty sight. Handling was out the window, and the legs were on strike. Somewhere in my head I hear the voice, do not stop pedaling, no matter what. So I continue pedaling, trying to figure out where I would make up lost time. After a few moments, I gather steam and approach a good rolling boil of about 18-19mph, then immediately go skidding to a halt because I missed my turn to Fosters Creek. Damn! That sucked. Turning around I feel my legs shouting at me for making them restart...then off through the valley of the dead I went...Foster's was a blur...a slow painstaking blur of mud, slippery roots, heavy breathing, sweating and lots of stand-up pedaling. Wrong gear choice for the mud...Once I finally made it, I was moving fast! I had found my legs and I was trying some nice sliding manuevers around the turns in the Amazon. I pulled most of em, and never ended up crashing, miraculously. Upon approach to Mary's Landing, I felt my system start to fade again and went back to pace mode...never stopping. I passed Page at this point and then shortly after this Robby Bennett who had also missed Foster's Creek or some turn in it and decided to just lap out the course...I also saw a glimpse of Brad working really hard to get out of the singletrack. This was the inspiration I needed to keep moving strong. I started churning noticing him up ahead by about 1-2 minutes in the crossings. Yeah, my strategy was actually working! I worked hard up to Mary's Landing and actually had Brad fully in my sights then. I rang my bell in celebration, and yelled out that I was coming for him and the hunt was on! No sooner had I said that when I slipped on a root in the middle of the technical section and gently smacked the tenders onto the stempost. All the gas was momentarily gone, but the injury was light as I had been able to catch myself for the most part. Upon getting my momentum up again, I realize Brad is gone and I jam out of the technicals with my sole purpose to hunt him down. I entered the red section and see him one last time whereupon I unwillingly go back into pace mode and finish out my lap running on nothing but fumes. Surprisingly, I was right behind Joe and Brad the entire time. Justin had finished a few minutes before them and was also still spinning around...Awesome Race! I had not won the race, but my strategy really helped me finish in a good time. I was satisfied with my performance. Beer made it's appearance at this meet and cheers were shared by all...

So finishing order:

Justin Fisher

Joe Pelton

Brad Phillips

Joel Watson

Sean Mehaffey

Robby Bennett (DNF)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I have been Facebooked...

Ok, I believe I survived the MySpace fad, but the Facebook thing has hit me square in the head after request after request to have me be someone's friend...I went to a family get-together a few weekends ago and I was asked by nearly everyone if I had a Facebook page and that we should link up to share photos of the party and stories...bah! I finally caved in and added myself to the huge Facebook melting pot...My only concern was with being able to update yet another virtual entity online with blogging being my main focus since it helps me gather my thoughts...Anyways, I am now on Facebook, which is really not a big deal, but more virtual maintenance for me if it is to be taken seriously. I did find however that it is a clever idea with lots of interweaving of relationships. The privacy filters are very well thought out. The Add-A-Friend suggestion window is smart and probably entails tons of brilliant search algorithms. The in-browser utility toolbar with integrated instant chat is a wonderful implementation of AJAX technology on steroids...overall, lots of features, yet still not busting at the seams with overkill...which is great! I really enjoyed the way multiple people can jump into another's "wall" by commenting and leaving posts...It is really doing a great service to families who want to stay in touch...Focusing on searching for lost friends and catching up with new ones as well as posting photos, videos, notes, pulling in your blogposts from other sources is just as close to virtual addiction as you may find....
As my close cousin told me, "It's like crack son!"...

Cool stuff indeed...


Monday, June 8, 2009

2009 Catawba Riverfront Classic

This weekend, I got to break my new steed in, the Salsa Selma, at the Charlotte National Whitewater Center. Their annual XC mountain bike race was being held, the Catawba Riverfront Classic. Brad Phillips and I made the journey to represent Charleston and the Lowcountry Fat Tire Freaks. It was a great event with a decent turnout. I raced singlespeed division for the first time. It was harder than I thought it would be...First mistake made was surfing in the ocean for about 2.5 hours in rough surf the day before. I drove up to the event still sore from paddling for such an extended period of time. The waves were really fun though and you just don't always get days like this in the Lowcountry. I knew this would affect my performance on raceday, but I really did not know by how much. At the start line there it was hard to concentrate on getting my raceface on with so many COOL singlespeeds all around me...Bianchi, LiteSpeed, another Salsa! It was a sight to see...The announcer counted down 5...3...1..Go! We went from chatty, to dead silent, then into action we sped...wait, not me, I slipped a pedal. I tried again, and could not clip in to my eggbeaters...I laughed, and tried one last time..CLIP, I was in! Unreal, missed clipin off the start, not good...Then, with some explosive BMX-style speed, I cranked through the crowd up into 2nd. Into the singletrack I went holding 2nd strong. I kept thinking all the while, this is some insane speed...I must throttle back soon, but I couldn't with so many riders bearing down on my back! I drafted 1st place and after a mile he made a mistake and crashed into the bushes, just like that I had 1st! I cranked harder than ever, cleaning climbs I had previously been walking and just had total control of the race situation. I started to get far enough ahead that I could no longer hear others behind me. I then started to realize I may have first wrapped up! 5 miles in and still clearly in 1st! While fantasizing about 1st place trophies, I came upon my first obstacle; last place women's expert racer...She was going at a strange moderate pace which had me confused because I suddenly thought I was back in a major endurance race where a slow moderate pace is key. I let off the gas momentarily and started to feel the effects of my body was hurting! I then realized I had to pass this person. I made myself noticed and she finally let me by, but I knew that I had lost a lot of time to my pursuers...I cranked it up again, but felt my lungs burning and my arms were stinging from yesterday's surf session. I reached my cruising speed once again and held it for about half a mile before being overcome by a singlespeeder who had finally caught up with me. He came by breathing hard and simply said..."that was one heck of a strong start!". I said thanks and watched him overtake me and continue cruising along. I kept on his tail and focused on simply working on him until the end where I could possibly sprint finish, but it was too far away to know what would happen next...
We both rode up upon yet another women's expert rider...Same kind of pace, but with a bit more struggle. Still hurting all over from going out so strong, this slowing of pace was comforting, but the guy in front of me was determined to pass her...MY second mistake. I should have also passed that person with no hesitation, but I did not and it cost me. He took off after his pass and I slipped in behind her for a bit longer trying to find my pace. I settled into a pace hoping my other pursuer's would be doing the same, but more more than 1/4 mile further did another singlespeed demon come into view. I then started to panic and realized I had to make my move now. I passed and tried to get away, but a pack of 3 were now on my tail. It seemed the slower expert woman from earlier had made her move and was gunning for the gold. She was also pulling along a singlespeeder in her draft. I was immediately left in 3rd position. I was crushed. I then tried for the remainder of the race to chase these guys down. About 2/3rds of the way in I almost had them, only to lose my legs to poor nutrition since I had not been thinking clearly at all. With this blanket of heat around us, I had forgotten to drink constantly, and it was past time for some more Endurolytes and Heed. My arms started cramping, my legs started twanging like guitar strings. I fed myself and waited for the assimilation process to occur and within a mile, I was somewhat back in action, but with time and distance lost, I had to focus on simply maintaining my position. I rolled in at 1:49minutes for about 19 miles...3rd place. no more no less... Valuable Lessons ReLearned. Fortunately this race was on my training calendar simply for upcoming events like Cowbell Challenge and ORAMM. Time for a light spin to spew all the bad stuff out!

Did I mention Brad Phillips got 2nd in Sport Men? A very strong finish was witnessed. Impressive! Cheers to the State Champion!

My Garmin Edge Recap:

Check out this Garmin Connect activity: 2009 Catawba Riverfront Classic2009 Catawba Riverfront Classic

If you are experiencing problems with the link, copy and paste the following URL directly into your Internet browser


Friday, June 5, 2009

Beer & Bike...without the biking...

Thursday night was supposed to be Bike & Beer night out at Marrington Plantation, but the rain had been coming down all day and this only makes things much worse on an already waterlogged trail...So, just when I was planning on getting on the spin bike and doing a few boring hours, Don calls me up and mentions he is about to start making some homebrew...I am a amateur craft brewer myself and really have been curious to see his setup since he brews from all grain instead of starting with mash extract like I do, so I roll over as quickly as possible. I arrive just as he is starting the second stage which is steeping the grains in 154degree water for about an hour...The next step is called sparging which consists of carefully pouring 175degree water over the top of the "mash tun" and opening a valve on the bottom of the mash tun to allow the sweet grain water be forced out...The heavier cooler sugar water will go downwards and into the wort boiler...From this point on, everything is similar to what I do, depending on the recipe desired...but the setup that Don has is very impressive and rekindles my desire to create something similar. Did I mention that during this timely set of steps, we had a chance to sample a few of Don's recently created masterpieces? MadDaddyPat joined us in downing a few pints of select ales....It was a good Thursday night after all!

Ahh yes, the Joys of Homebrewing....


Piccolo Spoleto

I found time in the afternoon to sneak out and watch another Young Artists series performance from the Piccolo Spoleto Events. I definitely enjoyed this one. My cello instructor Yun Hao Jiang performed with Jesus Manuel Toro on Piano with some movements from Dmitri Shostakovich. It is incredible to watch a performance like this since it lets you really see what your instructor is trying to teach you in terms of self control while playing the cello. I was awestruck watching him play in so many different positions as well as styles on the cello. Hopefully in about 7-10 years time, I may be good enough to play a performance like this one, but for now, I will continue practicing my open string, first position scale, and focusing on my bow arm... ;)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

LCFTF's First Singles Night

A fellow Lowcountry Fat Tire Freak, Robby Bennett, came up with another original idea for a unique race requiring all participants to either race SingleSpeed bikes or stay in one gear of their choice...

The reasoning behind this was to try and level out the playing field. Most riders at Marrington know racing is fast, furious and can greatly depend on gear choices.
So those willing to accept the "restrictor plate" race challenge were ready and waiting on Tuesday June 2nd for the first ever Singles Night Racing...
Onhand were Robby Bennett, Sean Mehaffey, Brad Phillips, Joe Pelton, and myself, Joel Watson, were on hand ready to go!

Joe Pelton had already been riding around the course and was changing gears to something a little higher when I rolled up. I did the math and found he had hit upon my ideal gear combo for Marrington. So much for my only advantage...but he was also riding a 69er, which is basically a 26 wheel in back with a 29 up front...this might help me out a bit... Brad rolled up shortly after I did and came out of his car with parts falling out left and right...After determining what was truly bolted to his bike and what was not, I realized he was running some insanely high gearing of 42x17 or it could have been 42x16...Either way, it was more than 60gear inches and one heck of a high gear to push through Foster Creek. Sean was running a 2x9 gearing and chose a 38x19 gear to plow through the trail I believe...Robby was running SingleSpeed in some secret combination which escapes me...

After some smalltalk concerning course layout and a little exciting buildup to a mutually agreed upon readiness state, we were rolling towards the start....The start simply consisted of Joe Pelton asking us if we were ready to which everyone quickly replied "yeah", and then Joe casually bellowed out a loud "Goooooo!". I believe Joe was expecting everyone to simply cruise out and spread out slowly, but I decided to shake things up early on since I really wanted to see how my legs would fare after a brisk high cadence warmup, so I pulled away with a sprint start. I took off fast and furious, but was soon limited by my gearing choice...not too spinny, not too mashy... There I was spinning like a madman hearing bikes closing up behind...IT really plays on your senses! I surprised myself by reaching the entrance to the singletrack with no real opposition. I knew Joe was playing conservative, but just how much he would allow was still in question. I did not know where Brad was yet, but I am sure he was picking up speed and closing in sooner or later...

The problem with racing against others on SingleSpeeds is that if their bikes are in good shape, you really can't hear em coming until they start backpedaling... Not too many aggressive racers back pedal and this was the case with Joe and Brad. I was holding a decent lead up until a few miles in when I sensed Joe on my wheel...Now nothing wears me out more mentally than someone trailing me inches behind. I immediately assume I am holding them up and will definitely yield if neccessary. I try and pull away looking for a straight line in the singeltrack so I can look back and check my gap, but once again sense Joe pulling me back in. I then yield to let him by and accept second for just a while..but all of a sudden, Brad storms by me with a loud hum coming from his bike...meaning he is hauling some serious off to third I fall. Racing means having to do lots of improvisations if you are just not strong enough to hold it up front all day I replan my strategy and decide to simply hold their wheels as long and as hard as I can. This worked great because as soon as I started to relax, my legs came back and I was moving along once again...Brad decides he no longer needs his chain to go this fast and throws it once, twice..3 strikes...Brad is out....I kick up my speed and trail Joe like a deerfly in the woods...I follow him through the entire Foster Creek loop and feel myself fade now and then realizing I just cannot pass him...yet.

We exit Foster creeek and enter lower Amazon, both feeling the surge coming back since it is wide open in this area. I look for my moment to pass Joe and it comes when he reaches for his water bottle. As he is occupied, I dart past him hearing him slurp in disgust because he was hoping for a break. No breaks this time around...I tear off through the Amazon, trying like mad to shake Joe off me, but he is strong and experienced and once again passes me....We come out of the Amazon with our minds now set on simply switching the workload back and forth to create a gap between us and a fictitious Brad who we assumed to be gaining on us with each and every passing moment. I pass Joe again and hold it entering the yellow section at Mary's Landing. This is where I think I may finally be able to drop Joe since I can ride through this area practically blindfolded, but upon exiting and looking for a chance to catch my breath, I find Joe steady on my tail, waiting for a chance to pass....I realized too late that he was drafting me since I was exhausted at this point and simply trying to shake him off. His strategy worked perfectly because as soon as I hit the pavement, I was baked. No more fight was coming from me. I hoped he did not sense my fatigue long enough to let me get back into the woods alongside him, but he took off midway down the pavement and kept on gaining speed upon entering the last remaining singletrack yellow area. I tried one last effort to catch him by riding through all the twisties without using any brakes and all technique, but as soon as I caught back up with him, my body said no more.... I managed to keep him within distance until the end, but I had no more fight left in me...What a GREAT mini-race! I think I plucked about 7-10 ticks off of me from cutting corners so tightly and hitting branches, leaves, bushes you name it. My lungs were burning, heart was literally pounding out of my chest for a few moments, but my legs felt pretty darn good.

I am so looking forward to next Tuesday!

Road Cycling Training

I have been doing a ton of road cycling lately. It really is fun when the bike just "fits". I can go over 100 miles and not really suffer, whereas previously, I would not make it more than 50 miles without major discomfort...

My cycling tips:
  • A Great supportive saddle...not too cushy and not too firm
  • Good Fitting Bike shorts with lightly padded Chamois
  • Chamois cream, Bag Balm, Udder Cream...etc...anything to keep the friction to a minimum.
  • a good nutritional liquid meal
  • Some sense of where you are going and how far you are planning to go.

Follow these tips and you will be on your way to a great day!