Friday, November 14, 2008

Swank 65 2008

How can I possibly start this article? How many different ways can one be subjected to the most extreme elements mountain biking can offer? Obviously quite a few...

Somewhere out in Asheville, I believe Todd Branham and his merry little crew of masochists let out little snickers of joy as they traverse the intended race path thinking of all the pain, suffering and misery we subject ourselves to. That's my conspiracy theory. In reality, Blue Ridge Adventures once again steps up to the call for setting up the most intense epic mountain adventure races in the Pisgah mountain area. Like moths to the flame, we drive out there to challenge ourselves against the forces of nature while following Todd's roadmap over treacherous terrain, unrideable creek crossings, as well as hanging from vines on the edges of washed out trail. I will tell you right now, I almost entertained the notion of quitting this time around. Something about biting cold weather and brutal rocky descents make one weak all over....This is one of those races where legs and technical must meet properly. Once you have those two factors down, you then have to turn your attention to factor in the elements. It is biting cold when you leave and if done at the snail's pace I encountered, biting cold upon arrival. I learned so much from this race, much more than my ORAMM experience since I really focused on listening to my body scream out loud at me while partially ignoring it.

The Swank 65 is the final epic race goal for the season that I had set for myself. It is by far nothing like I had expected. I arrived early Saturday morning to setup camp since it is included in the rider registration fees. I arrive to find the camp area very much desolate and devoid of human life except for a few Blue Ridge Adv associates. They inform me Cove Creek campground is also the Start/Finish for this fine event. I accept the information, find my little spot in the woods, setup camp nice n quick, get some hot coals going for cooking, then proceed to wander about trying to find things to do without blowing myself out since I am supposed to be resting up for Sunday. I try helping out with registration setup and find there is not much I can do there. So, I strap on my biking shoes and go putter up Cove Creek trail on the blue section for a little bit. This was an enlightening experience as I find it totally covered up with leaves and no sign of roots or rocks hidden beneath. I spin around after a few brisk light spin miles upward, and descend back towards camp at full speed. The rush returns and I realize I am looking forward to riding some new terrain tomorrow. A few more campers arrive and night soon falls as everyone hugs the edges of the fire, I realize I am truly having a great time camping, but know I must go to bed shortly. 10pm comes quickly and I retreat back to my frosty campsite and slide my way into my sleeping bag restless, anxious cold and a bit nervous hearing all of the horror stories of past years events....

Sunday comes up fast! I am up and awake at 6am. Coffee is on by 6:30. Restless, I get suited up and go over my battle/survival plan. While eating my dozen pancakes breakfast, I notice the grassy knoll which just yesterday was littered only with a pack of dancing dogs from nearby campers was now overridden by car after car after SUV. The hotel stayers had arrived. I would say about a good hundred or more. The madness started right away. Time sped forward and before I knew it we were instructed to lay our bikes in a large group area and walk up and away from our bikes to start in a "Le Mans"-like fashion (Indy car racers would have to run to their vehicles when the green flag was waved). Todd briefed us on the start and instructed us on where to run. While he was talking I notice Andy Campbell had shown up to race! Awesome! I wish him good luck and just like that we were running through the woods. I notice many were simply walking which forced the runners up through them all. I say we must have started in the upper third of the pack upon grabbing our bikes and spinning off. I immediately realize running up and down a mountain before a race really sucked. I was winded before I ever got onto the trail, not a good feeling. The ride winds up Cove Creek and it is climbing singletrack mixed with a handful of tricky creek crossings. I fall into a rhythm almost immediately and hope that my breathing can slow down before I pass out from sucking wind. I feel every bit of the cold mountain air deep in my lungs and grow a bit more upset that I just cannot acclimate properly. I notice myself passing many riders who are having a worse time than I am at breathing and quickly understand I am not the only one battling the elements. Rest stop 1 comes quicker than expected and I find myself warm and optimistic. The rest stops were AWESOME! The attendants were so organized and really there to wait on you hand and foot. I was told not to get off my bike, but to ask for what I needed, so I ordered a peanut butter sandwich, my water support bag, and a fresh set of lungs. They simply could not fulfill the lungs part, but that is a difficult request...Off I rode from rest stop #1 in less than a minute of arriving which was a shock to me as I had expected to lose 5 minutes at each stop.

Up a long gravel road climb I went. Daniels Ridge connector is around here. Onwards to rest stop#2 which came quickly, so I must be deprived of oxygen by this point. Once again, awesome reststop! I fly through this one, only eating a sandwich, climbing on and quickly entering the singletrack in Gloucester gap. I start making up tons of spots here. I finally catch up to Andy and am flowing along with the large group he is mixed into and notice he starts slowing because he has popped a rear derailleur cable! I stop to check if he needs anything, but he already has his hex wrenches out and working on the problem, so I scoot on ahead. I drop the rest of the group and am feeling really optimistic about finishing around 5 hours based on my current speed and physical status. Then it happens...a simple creek crossing turns into a nightmare when I get my front wheel hooked in a gap between rocks. I flip over, hit my helmet on rocks, my shoulder and part of my back go into the cold creek, and my feet are still clipped in! I cringe from the impact and both my legs cramp solid. It is agonizing pain. I force my legs to unclip and straighten out for the next 10 minutes staring at everyone fly by me asking if I am ok. Andy passes me again at this point and checks if I am ok. I tell him thanks, and to get moving, no problem here and I never see him again for the rest of the race. Not being able to move freely was the downward spiral to the entire race. In pain, cramping everywhere, cold, and slightly wet, I pedal on. No more optimism. I make it to rest stop#3 and look forward to drying out a bit on the climb up Pilot Mtn. Rd. This climb is a lot like Curtis Creek on the ORAMM, long steep and ridiculously long. I actually find I don't mind climbs like this as much anymore. I did dry out, but the cramps would resurface again after a few miles upwards and send me looking for a nice sunny warm spot to allow my legs to carry me onwards. It was time consuming and something I will be focusing on entirely throughout next season. I finally make it to Farlow Gap and breath a sigh of relief because despite everything terrible I have heard about this descent, I am looking forward to some time not pedaling and simply flowing...WRONG. As I enter Farlow, I realize it looks pretty and simple, but underneath the overgrown grass, moss, and barrage of leaves, are boulders, baby head rocks and sharp protruding rocks everywhere. It is one of the most difficult decents I have ever attempted to make. I make it a third of the way and go over the bars again. Fortunately, I catch myself clip back in and try again...halfway down, the banging, constant line changing and state of panic for my body's safety grow to a level where, I simply cannot proceed on the bike and get off and start walking quickly. I carry where I can, and roll it where I can, but I try everything to keep moving along. I am not only afraid someone is going to catch up, I am afraid I will be stuck here well past dark. I reach some trees I must climb over and start complaining out loud about how I am not having fun not riding my bike, but then I think hard about how cool it is to be out here in a spot which is hard enough to hike to and using my bike to get me here and out of here. It is also quite beautiful out here. I come to a creek crossing and notice a nice waterfall off the right edge, don't fall here! I hike onwards and upwards. Up and through junglelike singletrack, wondering if I am still on the right course. I come to another creek crossing and realize I haven't ridden my bike in quite sometime. Finally, I start seeing some steep uphill singletrack and clip back in and creep forwards since my legs are screaming in pain now. 2 riders actually catch up to me and my spirits sink for holding what few spots I had retained. I make it all the way to Davidson river trail and this area actually sends nice vibes through my soul since it flows and makes up for the setbacks I had on Farlow Gap. I start really cruising along now and make it back to rest stop#1 which signifys I am coming close to the end of the race. I am really happy I made it to this point because I learned I can ignore some pain in my body and continue forwards. Onto Cove Creek I ride, discovering another long arduous uphill gravel road climb was in store. I actually made this entire climb in my middle gear, so I am assuming it was not nearly as steep as Pilot Mtn Rd. It winds upwards for around 4.5 cold cold miles according to my computer and then quickly enters some super nice single track which is Cove Creek. I start jamming on this trail as soon as I realize it is the same trail we rode upon the start! I take tons of chances, roll over some of the same creek crossings that I earlier walked across and hop over rocks and anything else which would get me to the finish as soon as possible. I then hear the beautiful sound of people talking, and cheering as they see me coming through the woods. As I approach the finish, Todd announces my arrival and gives me a hi-five which sends a smile across my face! I made it! 6:07:02 official time, 5:21:33 computer time. I actually made it back in time to have a beer from the keg which was one of my goals as well! I hang out for the next few hours watching riders roll in amazed there were still so many out there! There were also quite a few DNFs and a few riders still not present as darkness set in! There were dozens of people who were getting ready to camp for their second night and although I wanted to stay one more night and really engage in the merriment with others whom I had met here, I had to get back to work the next day. With that said, I said my goodbyes, thanked Todd and crew for their fine work, and I hopped into the car, and drove quietly into the night taking with me a strong feeling of accomplishment and awe. I am sure I will return next year for another round of punishment, 'err enlightenment.

Check out more pictures here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Tsali Fat Tire Freaks Camping Trip

The Freaks went camping out to Tsali Recreation Area which is near Fontana Lake in Western North Carolina. The trip occurred October 10-13th, 2008. Tsali happens to be home to some of the finest, well-groomed mountain bike trails I have ridden in quite some time. There is not really a definite way to compare them to other trail systems like FATS, Dupont, as well as some of the other frequented trails in the Pisgah Forest area... Tsali is old forest, clean, predictable and definitely standing the test of time since the last time I had ridden these trails was over 15 years ago! There are easy loops and moderate loops, but nothing insane, meaning lots of group riding fun. The campsite at Tsali was clean, simple and VERY popular! There was good food, good friends, lots of jokers and lots of different personalities...did I mention all the great riding within feet of our campsite? I ate, drank, turned around jumped on my bike, did 10 miles up and around, afterwards coming back for more food and drink...too perfect...

Campers in attendance were:

  • Don Watts

  • Collin Papke

  • Luke Farrow

  • Ken Michalak

  • Ken Kirchner

  • Shawn Mehaffey

  • Steve Jolly

  • Mike Hobson

  • Joel Watson

I, "joel", rode up with the "Kens" in the Kirchner "expedition" shuttle. The ride was smooth and nicely uneventful. The weather was freakishly perfect. I already knew this weekend was going to be sublime. We arrive at Tsali campground amidst a smackload of other campers also coming in and filling spots. It was a madhouse! Tsali campground is first come, first served, so you gotta hustle to get your gear in place. Collin had already landed one and I ended up putting my gear in Collin's massive tent for the first night until the others arrived. The "Kens" ended up camping up the road a bit from us at a different campsite, which looked great for family camping in the future. The Tsali campground was definitely all about the mountain bikers. There were SOO many bikes here! It was mountain bike eyecandy heaven! Being a slight gearhead myself, I rode around a bit to see all the different bikes, components, and setups people were riding on. I calculated close to half a million dollars in just bikes alone. This did not take into account extra gear! Thats insane!

The campsite was very accomodating with clean bathrooms and hot showers! No sooner had we setup camp, that we realized we had arrived early enough to hit the trails! We immediately suited up and took off like a pack of wild kids who had been in the car traveling for way too long! Upon paying the trail entry fee, we immediately hit right loop since it is open on Friday. Smooth moderate climbs, nice breezy descents, incredible views, so much fun! The primary consensus was to just do a little bit of right loop since it was getting close to dark and it is always typical to be overly cautious upon first entering the mountains when trail riding. That notion flew right out and over the lake after about 2 miles since this trail was flowing so nicely! We finished all 13.9 miles of right loop in a great time with tons of energy left on reserve for the remainder of the weekend. Back to camp, time to eat! Chef Collin had already taken the liberty of precooking our first night's meal of some kind of pasta alfredo which really hit the spot when warmed up. Good beer, good food, and lots of relaxed smiles everywhere you turned. oh yeah!

Saturday was a classic slow wake, no hurries type day with many miles of trail left to explore. Upon eating one heck of a delicious hungry man's breakfast made by Chef Collin, we discussed the order of trails to be ridden that day. Steve, Mike and Shawn arrived sometime this day. Today's agenda revolved around Mouse Branch and Thompson Loop of which both were moderate and open on Saturdays. Collin had taken the extra effort to bring along his extra bike, the Caffeine 29er. After some chatting about it, Collin offered to let me take it for the day on the trails. I was reluctant at first because I was truly trying to focus on enjoying the trails up here with no worries about my handling skills based on a different bike setup, but this apprehension dissapeared after about 5 minutes riding along on this bike. My eyes were opened to 29ers on this weekend after riding every trail effortlessly and with little or no problems climbing. Thanks Collin! You've made a believer out of me. Ok, Mouse loop, wonderful descents, slightly rocky, moderate climbs, lots of people on the trail, but manageable. This trail was certainly the most technical I can recall. Thompson Loop was kind of more of the same with a bit more gumption in the climbs than Mouse Branch. The reward for climbing Thompson Loop was a fast Pisgah-like downhill which sends you screaming down straight into our campsite. Lunch, then Thompson loop again! oh yeah! Afterwards, I was back in camp and setup on a nearby hill for the night. Perfectly seasoned steaks and creative work with our current leftovers were on the agenda for that night's dinner. It was an excellent meal once again. Great campfires were everywhere! Rest settled in and one too many beers with way too many pounds of food sent everyone right off to bed.

Sunday was a hazy start. Breakfast was pancakes by Don Watts and fried buckeye walnuts cooked by myself since they seemed to be abundant everywhere! I believe Buckeye walnuts could be the answer to our energy shortage. After another excellent breakfast, we decided on hitting Left Loop since the talk is this is one tough hair raising trail. After a heated debate of whether we should hit right loop first or left loop, we go forth on left loop and plunge right into the fun. Left loop has a little bit of everything; whoops crossings, switchbacks, rocks, smooth fast forest loam, peek through views of the lake, wide open cliff hanger views of the lake, as well as a scenic option with a nice climb to a breathtaking view of Fontana Lake and the Smokies! This was truly a treat. I think I rode this loop twice today...We then rode a half loop on right loop before calling it a day. Night was coming up fast and it was soon time for our night ride! We left out of the camp with lights ablaze towards right loop. The weather felt cold until you hit the woods. It was warm and comfortable. We ended up shedding lots of our layers throughout the ride and had a blast while catching glimpses of the lake simmering in the moonlight. What a great last night's ride!

Monday was breakdown and pack up day. But our riding was not over. Collin had mentioned attempting to meet up with John Lackey and Andy Campbell who had chosen to challenge themselves at Pisgah Forest this weekend. Our meeting point was Dupont. Dupont was also a last minute treat with our special tour guide, Shrimper, leading the way up and over burnt mountain, cedar rock and a few trails whose names I still cannot remember, but such excellent riding! Shrimper had previously ridden at Marrington and had offered to show us some of his favorite spots when possible. He met up with us at Dupont with a smile and an eagerness to ride. Thanks Shrimper for your time! It was unforgettable!

So many showed up this time around! It was really cool!

Special thanks Luke Farrow for the AWESOME photos he took!

Click on the picture jump to the massive slideshow:

Monday, July 28, 2008

ORAMM 2008

Masochism....insanity...abuse...futility; all adjectives which accurately describe the OffRoad Assault on Mt. Mitchell(ORAMM).

I am quite comfortable stating that while I am a fairly seasoned rider with some decent technical riding experience under my belt, this event tested me beyond normal acceptable human limits. This was the most grueling climbing endurance marathon I have ever participated in. I never realized how far one can climb when they simply have to. Pain was everywhere, suffering was everywhere, broken bodies and wills were everywhere. Quitting was not an option for myself after 30 dedicated miles ....To make a long story short, I suffered, survived, and completed my first, and possibly last Off-Road Assault On Mt. Mitchell....unofficial time: 11hrs:??mins... official computer time 8:36:07, therefore with moderate reststop visits, about 9.5 hours(more on that later)...oh yeah, one more thing:climbing sucks.

Personal Computer Data:

  • Total miles ridden: 65.26

  • Total Time: 8:36'07

  • Average Speed: 7.5mph

  • Maximum speed: 29.4mph

Travel Crew: Brad & Jennifer Phillips, and myself, Joel Watson....

Other participating LCFTFs: Justin & Tina Fisher & family, Nick Latto, Andy Campbell


Breakfast time at the Comfort Inn. 6:30 am and all is quiet in the Continental breakfast lounge. I grab myself a danish, some rather rubbery looking cooked eggs, OJ, and some wickedly watered down coffee...i go back for some toast and more OJ....Some more water back in the room to keep the hydration system circulating...we all get dressed and stagger out to meet the monster. Food Drop bags in place, then shuffle into a good spot to avoid the lockdown at the hike-a-bike at Kitsuma...


GO! I have never heard that many knobbies roaring along on a paved road was an amazing sound! Adrenaline pumped through my body. The rush was overwhelming. My heart rate shot up to 175 instantly! I could not control how incredible and insane this start was! Heartrate check: 184. Myself, being stuck dead in the middle of this fearsome aggressive pack of winners made for an uncomfortable feeling of not making the slightest mistake in formation. One turn led us through a man trying to control the pack traffic into a left turn, but he was too short to see, so many riders almost hit him: maybe he should be up on a large pedestal next year? This went on up most of Old 70...truthfully, I actually felt immediately winded from the immediate grade that the road started taking....I started wondering if I would even see RestStop#1....


Ahh yes...lovely Kitsuma, she sounds like a lovely gentle asian flower, but in reality: demanding, demeaning, and will only give up her gift upon total devotion and with that in mind, I briskly rode forward down a bit of singletrack towards a sharp left vertical turn by the highway whereupon an immediate congestion of riders commenced. Heartrate check: 170. At this point I realized I was not far enough at the front of the pack to avoid the traffic jam, so I physically and mentally throttled down and started the humbled march up Kitsuma...and up...and up....damn this hike-a-bike! Heartrate check: 180. Then, when all patience seems to vanish and thoughts of pushing riders out of the way to get ahead enter one's thoughts, you hear chatter from relieved riders ahead..."downhill, finally, alright..about time!..etc". I catch my breath for a moment, and impatiently clip in and start hammering...WOW, hard drops off roots, rocks jutting up everywhere! Quick ascents upward make for another moment of bunched up climbing, but before anyone can mutter a word about hiking, I am clipped in again and flying along bones jarring from the harsh, loose, rooty drops which propelled me forward to about 20mph in the blink of an eye and the slight release of the brakes. I fly across off camber ledges praying not to slip out, forcing my focus to remain on the trail ahead, feeling the presence of hundreds of riders breathing down my back. Hands screaming in pain from the downward pressure of the descent and the constant loading/unloading of the brakes...I let off the brakes and start really making some room! WOW...this is fun stuff devotion and surrender and Kitsuma will bear her soul to you....and just when it starts smoothing out and turning fun and twisty, she takes it back! Heartrate check: 160. aww...i wanted more...ever heard the quote: be careful what you wish for? Arrived at RestStop#1 at the 15 mile marker according to my computer...dazed, I was starting to realize the key to surviving this race is not to race it to RestStop#2

Star Gap.)

As soon as you set out from RestStop#1, you enter another type of climb up an old dirt road which is run over with mountain foliage. This climb seems to never end and I soon start to understand why this is called a climbers marathon and quickly decide I want don't want to ride anymore....too late possibly...I continue thinking thoughts of bailing after reaching RestStop#2, but RestStop#2 never seems to come...Heartrate check: 185. Wicked cramping sets in...Just when it seems like my legs seriously are done climbing, the road starts to point downward... fast, fast, fast...oh yeah, to hell with quitting, game on! Cramps forgotten. The downhill drops you right into RestStop#2 and I am overcome with adrenaline at the crazy descent I just finished, ready and wanting more. But, minor setback#1 occurs with a harsh reality check about the current state of logistics: no water at the feed station! Ok, getting worried...I calm down and slowly take out my pre-loaded feedbag which does not contain a water bottle, just some gels and energy foods and slowly eat them hoping the replacement water will be here once I am done. 10 minutes later, no water...Fellow LCFTF, Andy Campbell, shows up with the same look on his face regarding the current state of the race...ouch...15 minutes pass. finally...water arrives...frustrated, but not negative, I reload and immediately continue onto RestStop#3 trying to make up for unforeseen lost time.

Curtis Creek Rd.)

Someone at RestStop#2 mentioned this being his 3rd ORAMM attempt which always ended along the Curtis Creek Rd climb. This information worried me. Nonetheless, I had plenty of water, heartrate was 158 and I felt renourished and ecstatic having made it this far! I start the climb...Sweet! This is nice a leisurely climb up a long campground road, why all the fuss? Wow, this road sure is long..holy cow, this road is still climbing...omigosh, are you serious?? Still climbing....climbing....if I see any more gravel I am going to scream...nobody actually cared when I yelled...why are all the riders so silent? I can't stand this anymore...please give me something different to climb...damn it, I am not giving up...up..up...up..pass 2 riders..up..up...pass 5 riders, one at a time....Heartrate check: 180. stop, pee in the bushes, get back on ...up..up..up...up..up...get passed by some chick with groovy tassles on her bike seat...are you kidding me?....up...up...up, pass the tassles chick after she drops to her granny gear....7-10mph, mid-ring up front(this is the key)...up...Heartrate check: get the picture...I finally get off for a bit to walk and stretch my legs since saddle-itis is setting in and I gotta take care of tha' taint....get back on after a mile and ride past some lady who claims I only have 2.5 more miles to get to RestStop#3...awesome...up..up..up...1 mile left...I chug down my last bottle of water to keep the hydration system pumping steadily...all systems normal and operational....Heartrate check: 168. Finally RestStop#3! 1:30pm, I enter the feed zone with adrenaline surging...I grab my feedbag, down my food, look at my watch and tick off 7 minutes. I want to be outta this stop no later than 1:40pm. I quickly get my bottles ready for a refill and minor setback#2 occurs: NO WATER AT THE FEEDZONE! ok...getting panicky, so I ask the attendant when they expect more, to which his reply was: he doesn't know and he doesn't expect anymore anytime soon...Great! Wonderful...adrenaline turns to bewilderment...I turn around to look at what other liquids are available...2 roasting hot cans of RedBull sit amidst a flurry of emptied cans in an overflowed trash container. I finally make the decision to use them when someone runs up and chugs them both into his, everything cannibalized...this is not good...nothing left at all except for remaining feedbags which were not an option to me...I sit down and try to think of a rational way to solve this issue, all the while, time rushes on....30 minutes...45 minutes...1 hour later, frustrated with it all, and mentions from many about abandoning the race as well as mentions of refunds....the growing group of upset people all walking around waiting for water are handed other's liquids from unknown feedbags...not cool. just wanting to get on with it I take it, reload and go away, not certain what lay ahead at RestStop#4...


Determined not to let technical minor setbacks influence my adventure ride, I started moving along at a fast clip. Beautiful scenery, nice little decent and then, level and up again...oh no...not another gravel road! Climbing again...faster this time...rested, moving along at 10-12mph...really surprising myself...passed riders who had at least 45 minutes on me...moving along so nicely...this climb is just as insane as Curtis Creek! legs burning from the cold restart...heartrate: 175...drop it down to 7-10mph...keep moving don't stop....bam! Heartrate: 160. RestStop#4...oh surprise! They are out of water...and so here I am stuck yet, I am frustrated, but NOT rude...this is obviously a logistics problem...not knowing what lay ahead I wait it out for water again..15 minutes pass, I finish my feedbag grub and look for a nice spot of grass to sleep in, but before any water detail arrives, a generous man named Phillip shares from his gallon of personal water with me! Alright, back in action! 25 minutes later I am back on the road! The only thought on my mind was: I cannot believe I am on my way to RestStop#5!


While waiting it out at RestStop#4, I overhear mention of the brutal downhill awaiting...over 6 miles of it! I don't know whether I should be afraid or very afraid...onwards up the BRP about 1-2 miles...then sharp left right into a mean, vertical hike-a-bike section...then...the moment of truth...the downhill begins....steep, fast, wicked fast if you wanna...ruts, turns, off-camber berms, ledges no safety name it...Heartbreak throws everything it can at you...this descent is only for the serious-minded, seriously mental that is....sharpened focus is the key to survival here, as well as controlling your downhill descent speed...I did suffer a sever cramp in my left quad muscle when attempting to unclip upon arrival at a steep almost turned ugly, but I caught myself and simply laid back on some shrubs for about 5 minutes to ease the pain...back to downhill flying I went...I witnessed some of the nicest outlook views from some of the points on the ridge where I paused to give my hands a break from the intense pain. I finish the downhill and cross over some surreal looking railroad tracks and discover RestStop#5...woohaa! I am not gonna even check for water...I catch my breath, get off the bike and spit on my rotors just to hear them hiss, laugh, gently massage my hands to bring them back to life and then set out to finish this beast off...


I speed off again fueled mainly by adrenaline only to meet yet another climb! Blast this race and its neverending eternal uphill battles! Along the way, I meet a couple, Russ & Megan, who had entered the ORAMM because of their friends who had backed out at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances...They were troopers! Onward I climbed...up....up...up...and yes, up...ok, now old 70 again....things are looking great, then I remember...Kitsuma...again...remember what I wished for earlier?..well, I take it back...I didn't wanna hang out with Kitsuma anymore...Strangely, now with little or no energy left in me, Kitsuma seemed a much larger challenge than before. I did, however, manage to navigate up many a switchback before jumping into hike-a-bike mode which left me a bit impressed to know I can handle this trail with some skill. After goofing off a bit and dizzy with completion anticipation, I start the downhill...whoa...I didn't realize how many descents and climbs there were...I noticed a lot of different challenges now that I was entirely spent...the switchbacks were much harder and trickier...I could not believe some of the drops I had taken earlier with little or no really get to know your limits in this race. Finally, I reach the bottom sweeping downhill of Kitsuma and start charging taking lots of risks to simply end this game...I blast right out of the woods into the campground area and startle a large group of campers who were walking along. I take note of the directions and get on the long road home....


The road to the finish is old 70 back to Old is fast and paved...oh yeah, big ring, top gear...kickin it up I reach almost 30mph and love the wind cooling me down. My legs start quivering half from pain half from adrenaline...feeling very much alive....i reach the one mile marker and start really cranking...just when I thought the racing was over, here comes a dude with a yellow jersey on who I had passed looking dizzy 15 minutes ago on the Kitsuma descent...He flies up in front of me, so I start drafting him...he throws a textbook move from the Tour de France at me and proceeds to start shaking me off...I laugh and dart ahead...testing him...he takes the bait and follows...I then proceed to shake and drop him...and then slow down to maintain energy...then he blasts by again...I see the finish coming up fast...I crank like a madman to pass...he ramps up his speed...we end up finishing basically tied(no photo finish) was pretty funny battling for something like next-to-last place...but it made the last mile enjoyable... Being close to the last one returning, pretty much everything was gone...the keg was drained, the spaghetti was mushy, but I enjoyed every bit of my mushy dinner and frothy bottom of the keg beer like it was the best meal ever... After explanations as to why it took me so long, we were caught up, loaded up and back on our way to Charleston...

Aside from the minor setbacks based on water shortages: Logistics as well as rumours earlier riders were wasting water by using it as personal shower systems(I truly hope you guys get this problem figured out Todd), I had a great adventure...

Overall, this was an awesome test of perseverance and true mastery of one's bike handling & survival skills...I am happy to be able to honestly say I completed it and now truly know what it is all about.

ORAMM is one hell of an adventure it...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tour de Cure 2008

Well, this was a great way to break in my new road-bike computer(it still has the plastic on the screen!) also shows how many miles you can ride in 5-6 hours because of one wrong turn....ouch!
Overall, the Tour De Cure was a really fun road ride with lots of great people helping out at every stop. The food and drinks at the end of the ride were great(bbq, beer and lots of fixins!) and the SAG support was superb! Thanks to Charles Fox and everyone else we met out there who really made this event possible!

Fat Tire Freaks in attendance were:
Don Watts,
Nick Latto,
Nick "Speedy" Luther,
Chris Eaton...
special hello to Ramsey, who was there with us throughout...
cant wait till next year!