Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swank 65

What an absolutely different Epic Race this was when compared to last year's freezing temps and unknown race course. Moonlight camping, lots of stars, perfect weather, good vibes, good friends, gourmet campfire cooking with my wonderful support Wifey. Listening to spooky stories ala iPod upon falling asleep under the bright moonlight. Waking up to great coffee and the nervousness that comes from pre-race tensions and anxiety and excitement! It's full-0n energy overload! Yes, I did suffer miserably for a short period of time challenging myself against Farlow, but only because of my own bone-headed mistakes, nothing more. I did not train like I did for ORAMM, and I did not come fully nutritionally prepared, but only because this is a really fun-race and nothing more. 33x23t was a good choice for this event due to the high frequency of climbing, but I may be a little more daring in the future and gear up higher to get up climbs a little faster...
Mark Sackett had planned to lead us through the starter of the race to get us a good position at the first climb. Unfortunately, I knew his pace was very strong and a bit higher than my current threshold would maintain, so I told him I was going to lay back and pace cruise up until the first official climb. It was good strategy and I am starting to really understand the importance behind it. Race start was LeMans with a forward roll which was hilarious: if someone did catch that on their camera, I beg you to delete it.

Cove Creek was a bit logjammed, so there were 2 choices to make, charge ahead and pass aplenty, or cruise along and pass when necessary...I simply cruised along. My legs felt great, body was feeling good, but my head was foggy, so a slow pace really was for me at the moment.

I continued on this pace, averaging 8.5-9 mph until the first climb up 475. I stopped for a very short moment at RS#1 to remove a thermal layer and continue forward. The climb was smooth short and fast. I storm through RS#2 no need for any refills. 13 miles in, legs feeling great! Did I mention the reststops? They were great! Maybe a little too nice...made me wanna stop and relax at each and every one...but I digress as this is a race recap and forward momentum must be maintained...Downhill to Butter Gap...smooth sailing, loving this high speed descent! Butter Gap flows along and I clean almost everything I challenge my legs with. It's looking like a great day for riding. 475 comes along much too quickly and I excitedly realize I am climbing again with a good constant speed. Oops, I am out of water. By skipping RS#2 earlier I had depleted all of my reserves inbetween Buter Gap and Long Branch. 8.6 m,ph avg here...No worries, I am almost back up to RS#2. I arrive parched and worried about the lapse inbetween water. I guzzle down fluid from my reststop supplies only to find out I guzzled some Heed which just does not agree with my system at times. I eat, drink some clear water, jump back on the bike and start climbing Pilot Mtn Rd up towards Farlow....Well, well now...20 miles out and here comes a fast onset of the most serious cramps I have felt in quite some time. Both legs involuntarily seize within seconds of each other leaving me standing straight legged, staring out at the beautiful views that come with this climb listening to other racers pass me by, some quietly mumbling something about insanity and singlespeed in the same sentence...I wait patiently for the return of my legs and calmly drink water and start the death march up to the top of Farlow....I switch back and forth from walking to riding for a large portion of this climb realizing that I am totally bonked and my legs may never come back. At this point, I almost turn around and coast down the climb to quit at RS#2....But like the stubborn goat that I am, I march on, determined to find my legs again. I cruise up to the point of no return at Farlow and lean back, set my sights on the prize and take the plunge. I clean the upper section only to find myself sliding sideways on newly fallen leaves which change the personality of this descent entirely. I find a safe stopping point(meaning, jamming on the brakes and almost crash) whereupon I decide to hike the rest of the way. Lots of other hikers were present and some commented positively on my futile attempt to try and traverse the leaf laden mountain side...I actually pass a few people hiking since I am actually familiar with the creek crossings and the overall distance remaining as well as having rubber soles to grip on stuff (Mavic Contagrips rock!). I once again run out of water and dip into the highest creek stream I can find and drink aplenty. My legs return after a few short minutes with newfound energy ready to take on Daniel Ridge. Man, what is in that Pisgah mountain water?! I start really moving along, trying to make up for lost time. RS#3 comes along with a fresh water refill and nothing else. I eat some honey chews on the way and get another burst of energy, which powers me up until the end of the very last climb up 475b/225. I once again find my legs screaming in misery upon entering the Cove Creek trail within the last few miles, wishing I had more magic Pisgah water... Lots of people strewn up in here with cramps and pain. I zigzag through it all, managing my own pain, focusing on finishing ...time no longer an issue, I finish! Ahh yes, and what is the first thing I see, Wifey's worried look wondering where I have been, Mark and Mike holding beers, already changed, asking what took me so long...sigh, good friends....A few hamburgers, recovery beers and warm fireside conversation, and back to sealevel I went, Wifey leading the way...Thanks Marsha for being there to support and worry about me, you rock!
Total time: 5:46:06
Total miles: 37.81miles
Elevation Gain: 5641ft.
Cheers to Mark Sackett for his outstanding 30th place result!
Cheers to Mike Pierce for his outstanding results even with his wardrobe malfunction!
Todd, Heather; it gets better every year! Thank you for once again organizing this event and giving everyone a chance to goof off in the mountains.
Looking forward to next year guys!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Francis Marion Expedition ala Kawasaki!

Went out on a super fun off-road excursion earlier today. Dave Hall and I took the motorcycles out for a little trip out and around as many backroads in the Francis Marion forest area as we could find in the time we had. Turns out one too many stops for fun riding over obstacles and exploring obscure trails made for a definite re-visit in the future...There are so many gravel roads out there to explore...Dave also got stuck a few times although he was able to slog out of most of his predicaments. I, unfortunately, got stuck knee deep in some very swampy muck which almost saw me leaving my bike there to return with towing assistance(my truck). Fortunately, Dave remained calm and collected while I impatiently kept tugging away on my sinking motorcycle and thought of a great idea having to do with tons of sticks and brush to make a false floor. It worked long enough to pull the bike over and out of the swamp. Most of the day was spent exploring lots of trail ends leading to various sections of the Santee and North Santee as well as Echaw Creek. So much fun...so little time...more exploring in this area to come.

Total Distance: 104 miles...
Time: 5 hours total including mud jam interruptions...

More details at:

Garmin GPS Data:

Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, October 12, 2009


So it started out as a great idea. Get up early, load up bikes, and ride the Palmetto Passage...7 miles...seemed easy...and it was a great idea...initially.

I thought it would also be a great way to take the Raven out on her first ride on her newly built Salsa Moto Rapido mtn bike.

But then, like a pesky friend, chaos took over the driver's seat...and things got a little more hectic...

Somehow, in the fog of the early morning, I ended up changing our initial departure riding point from Buck Hall to the Swamp Fox trailhead. And just like that, we were riding up the Swamp Fox trail at 8:30 in the morning..which seemed ok at the time considering the weather was nice. I figured, a mile up through scenic points of the Swamp Fox trail and then turn around, and fork over to the Palmetto Passage and leave the best part for last...so far, so good..

But, did I mention anything about the mosquitos? Absolutely relentless! At first few miles, not a big deal...but wow, they never ever gave up the fight...not once!

The Raven was the first to spot a snake on our ride. Snake, she yelled as I rode past it much too closely. When I asked her to describe it, she said, brown with diamond markings on it...gulp.

I started to worry that my great idea to get the Wifey and Raven into some nice weather trail riding was much too premature in the season.

After turning around a mile or so into the Swamp Fox trail, we return back to the fork in the trailhead and I decide to simply ride onwards towards the Palmetto Passage...another left turn taken by chaos. I figured it couldn't be too muddy on this part of the trail, so we pedal on. Upon looking back to check on the family, they heft big smiles letting me know they were having fun or at least smiling for me to let me know they were with me....Then I hear the Wifey say something about a tree going after her and then "oof!". Wifey hit a tree, but had a great recovery and we were back pedaling away. Raven trudges through some muddy lines and holds up the Wifey who is starting to pedal like a pro through the muddy stuff. It was classic lowcountry trail riding. I really wish I had brought my camera. We cross the highway and enter the Palmetto Passage with the family still showing a good deal of energy left...The Palmetto Passage is definitely a must repeat for cooler weather since everyone was really enjoying this part of the ride...

Remember those pesky mosquitos? Well, they certainly don't give up the fight easily. All of the nice scenic stops I had planned on making basically did not happen. We simply charged through each and every break point only to stop on top of a windy bridge long enough to hydrate and take a break from blood loss...Raven wrecks once into a tree and holds back the tears and continues onward. We reach Buck Hall and briefly rest to catch our breath. At this point I realize it is getting very hot, much hotter than was forecast for the day... I round up the troops and we set off cruising along at a good pace. The Wifey blazes ahead with a newfound set of legs and sets a pace that Raven simply cannot hold, so I bring up the tail end to keep everyone in check...The Wifey clears some roots on a climb which simply leave me amazed while looking back Raven gets off to walk...all the while mosquitos are eating us alive...literally. I tell here to get back on as soon as possibly and keep moving...The Wifey later announces she has just seen a snake on the trail about 50 feet ahead with a mixture of screaming and excitement in her voice. The Raven and I plunder on carefully making our way forward. I take back lead point and start pacing us closer to the end constantly reminding everyone that it is ok to walk over obstacles that they do not feel comfortable riding over. The Wifey seems to have taken to mountain biking overnight as she attacks another rooty uphill climb with positive determination. I stop and stare at her in awe as she flies up the climb only to stop a few feet short of the top and discover she is geared too high. She falls over, tangled up in her bike in a nasty looking pile. I wince watching it happen and then we help her recover. She gets up and keeps on moving! Wifey is on a mission! Raven cannot believe her mom is a mtb maniac! We finally exit the Palmetto Passage and we try riding up the side of the highway to shortcut our way back to the car, but Wifey finally succumbs to her rampant energy bursts and hides out in a shady rest while she commands me to continue onward and bring her chariot to her. I proceed, pick the family up and head back home..

17 miles of mosquito laden lowcountry trail fun was had...Overall, a great day!

Cheers to my Wifey and the Raven for riding as hard as they did...

Next family ride: Marrington(hopefully on a cooler day)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Captains Log; Stardate 63216.1

Seems I haven't written much in a while...while it may seem that not much has been going on, there actually has...

Life has been going on. Regular, busy life...

News which has been rocking our boat of life:

First, I broke my toe. Yes, its broke and I can't figure out how to get it to heal without sitting dead calm still...its quite an annoyance. I broke it surfing trying to stand up too fast for a wave and jammed it into the top of my board...I thought it was jammed, but I cannow clearly see it is broken, all swollen and different looking... Hitting it into all sorts of corners only helps me verify the toe exists. i thought it was done healing recently, but a weekend event last week left it really puffy and not feeling all too well...

The Wifey has been going through a major case of kidney stones... From what she describes, its like giving birth all over again...ouch! Anyways, its a bit different having to adjust to running out to get her meds, handling some of the indentured Wifey's chores as well as just being there for her to "hug". I really do feel for her...especially when she had one pass a day before our Waves to Wishes 5k run....so now she is on meds for most of October and has been told via doctors orders to chill out...

Awaiting exciting news for one major "secret" event which is currently going on involving living arrangements for the Wifey and I.

Adopted a new pet into the family...a Green Cheeked Conure Parrot we named Mr. Bean because of his silly antics...so far, he has really fit in well with our current menagerie of animals...
All other animals are doing fine and receiving considerable attention and care as well...

Cello practice has hit a wall...I am learning long stretch positions for flat notes on the first position...needless to say, there is pain involved and it really has me frustrated... simply means more practice, more focus.

Work is moving along...always lots to do in software land...Writing some really cool features for more secure multi-threaded SSL related communications which I had wanted to integrate for quite some time now...also dabbling with a bit of low volume eCommerce stuff which may make our software more powerful in the foreseeable future...

Bought a lightly used Dual-Sport motorcycle from Dave Hall. Its a really well kept mini-green machine Kawasaki KLX 250. Since it had a kickin new aftermarket pipe on it, jetting was needed. I ordered a new jet kit from it and knocked that out in a day. What a difference that made! This bike is great! Lots of off-road power, and I can simply ride from my house right to the trail head in under 15 minutes. I have been out a few times recently and hope to get some more time in out there since it just begs to be ridden, and it keeps my broken toe stationary in a stiff boot.

Finally was able to license both motorcycles, both the BMW and the Kawasaki...now both are fully street legal! woohoo!

Participated in the Folly Beach Challenge Triathlon. Did miserably in the kayaking portion, probably because I used my giant aluminum canoe, Did ok on the bike portion since I am an ok spinner, and did really miserably on the running portion. Left me spent and hurting. Did I mention my toe was broken? Not planning any more of these events anytime soon. I really like biking, and running is ok for small events, but combine them all up with some kayaking/swimming and you really have to be in tip-top condition...and nowhere in my hectic little world is there such time to alot to multiple sports...and probably a bit too late in life to get into super multi-sports...

Speaking of sports, the Raven is now fulltime on the soccer bandwagon.. After wanting to call it quits early in the season, I went out with her for a little one on one training (broken toe and all) and taught her fundamental basics on different passes, attacks, control techniques and the essence of defense strategy to help give her the foundation she missed. Upon attending her next scrimmage match, the coach came up and asked what happened, since the Raven was on fire! She was a totally different player! I was so proud! So, soccer is our current family focus with her and she has a massive schedule of events coming up for this sport...so it will definitely keep us entirely too busy for the months to come...

Since I am canceling all of next month's racing activities because of my increasingly weakening athletic abilities(broken toe, broken spirit), family has planned to sneak in some simple convenience camping sometime in October...looking forward to this...

Built the Raven a new bike...Salsa Moto-Rapido with some nice farkles...21lbs ready for some fall XC fun...i think she is gonna love it...

Bought some new shoes to replace the Bontrager RXL Dutch-boy clogs I was so enamored with. What a disappointment those shoes were...I now entirely associate the word "Bontrager" with "Pain". Replaced them with some super comfortable Mavic Chasm shoes...the difference is night and day! Rubber Tread, Carbon Sole, nice arched inners, excellent fit. Superb workmanship has gone into the Mavics and I really look forward to great times spent in them...

hoping to get back on the bike soon and just remember what it was I was trying to accomplish before all the dust started flying...a weekend in DuPont sounds really nice right now...sigh...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

River's Edge Thoughts...

The River's Edge Marathon despite my shortcomings was a well organized and very fun event. I will definitely be looking forward to it next year. Instant race updates and great support during the event really make this a happening race.

It turns out the guy that broke his hip was on Goat Hill which was a rocky climb section, and overall slippery early in the morning...I got through that section by hike-a-biking up it on my first lap... I wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him racing again soon...

Overall, the trails were fun and fast and once dry, really let me bike hookup on the corners. The USNWC is one of my favorite trail systems when visiting relatives in the Charlotte area. It is amazing how tough they can be after a few nonstop laps on them.

I believe a large reason('excuse') for my performance hit was that I had not properly recovered from the previously raced events. I had just finished ORAMM, and Fools Gold, both of which are giants to accomplish outright for someone like myself. I also think going out surfing from Thursday-Sunday the week prior to River's Edge in hurricane surf for 4-5 hours each morning did not help. I think I have to learn to consider my past actions as well as the future when deciding to race these events since my overall fitness level in the "now" does not always dictate how I will do 4 hours into such an event. I guess I am going to have to learn more about tapering and preparation.

Sleep deprivation may/may not have had such a large impact on my performance, but I am thinking it did. I will have to monitor my sleep levels more carefully and determine what I truly need to have a stellar day...

Once again, I need to refactor my nutrition... My friend Mark is a die-hard user of Infinit liquid nutrition and I may start using this product soon to get used to it before the 12 hours of Unicoi. This will be my first 12 hour and I really want to NOT worry about my stomach clogging up with crap, which is what my gut felt like 3 hours into both Fool's Gold as well as River's Edge...Honey and water seem to really unclog my system, so I am sticking with those. Electrolytes kind of just felt like they sat in my stomach...Less electrolytes may be the key to help keep my system normalized, but I just don't know without further experimentation..so I am going to go simpler in my upcoming training rides.

SHOES....my new shoes hurt so much I am going to be changing them out as soon as this post is done. I had been riding SIDI Dragons for the last 2 years without any issues whatsoever, when they finally felt apart after the Cowbell Challenge scorching heat race... I then went to my LBS and purchased some nice new blingy Bontrager RXLs with lots of toe box room...Well, lets just say what's good for some is not always good for me. Not only will these shoes not tighten down enough to hug my foot, the cleat positioning is still too far forward on the backmost setting which puts my hold over the front of my foot instead of where I was used to it previously, stressing a totally different set of leg muscles. They also have a terribly wide heelcup which makes me feel like I am wearing large flipflops when off the bike and hiking. Partly to blame is the fact that they are fully carbon undersole and stiff as concrete. Power to the pedal is the only thing that these shoes do well. If you are a superhuman biker and never consider getting off your bike to push, these shoes might be right for you, but not for me. Because the ankle strap cannot be repositioned, they dug into my right upper foot pretty badly. I still have a tender lump where the ankle strap meets my foot and cannot even put them back on to do a recovery ride. So I am now considering new pricey SIDIs or some Mavics with the rubber sole for hiking....Cannot wait to get the shoe issue straightened out to get on with my riding...Sheesh!

So to wrap this blathering all up, lets review; recovery, sleep, nutrition, and properly fitting shoes should be my focal points...like I said before, "The learning never ever ends"...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rivers Edge 50 Mile Marathon...

The personal learning just never ever ends...you think I would know all there is to know about myself by now, but it just never seems to end...

First off, it is now a fact that I do not do well without a proper night's sleep. I can work all night on software projects and really fascinate myself with some of the solutions I come up with, but I cannot actually go to sleep and then wake up in the middle of a heavy REM cycle and start performing properly again.

The Rivers Edge 50 Mile Marathon at US National Whitewater Center was not a race I was planning on entering, but being that I knew the course so well, I was curious to see how it would go for me racing from memory. Well, with no real preparation, the battle was over before it started...

I left the house at 4am on Saturday morning and drove my caffeinated butt up to Charlotte, NC for the race. I was prepacked and very organized before getting to bed and left in a seemingly awake state. The drive up was very uneventful. So far, so good...

About 10 minutes before I arrive at the USNWC, I start to feel groggy. Not good..I park, start unloading my cooler and simply stare at my equipment before me for about 5 solid minutes in complete and utter indecision. This was the first sign! (I definitely was not entirely awake).

I finally start toting some of my stuff down to the feed area since this was a lap race and I had to setup my station for my bottles and food. I find a spot way down at the far end and upon returning to my car to suit up, I run into Stephen Janes of Siren Bicycles! He greets me and offers me a spot under his feed station tent and I move my stuff over there. I meet his friend OJ and his lady friend whose name I cannot recall. Then Mark Sackett shows up with Mike Pierce and his lady friend Krystal...all good friends ready to have some fun racing. At this point, I find out the race has been postponed because of the prior night's rain by an hour, and I simply start to settle back under the tent and forget to start preparing. I start checking out all the cool bikes everywhere, and find out this is the largest single speed group I had ever raced in. I watch everyone shuffle around and suddenly snap to attention, run back to my car, suit up and head back not knowing what to do next. I realize I am in a groggy haze.

Before I know how to snap out of it, the race is being started in a stretched out mass group format...basically a free-for-all! I suddenly wake up knowing if I am not in a good position entering the woods, I will be hike-a-biking, so I start flying up through the pack and find myself a few nice temporary spots and then catch Mark Sackett up ahead doing the same thing...I catch his wheel and start pacing him flying right into the woods on his tail. We find a steady flow for the first 5 minutes and then start encountering lots of mass traffic. Mark starts navigating traffic really well, so I slipstream into his wake and flow past most of the stragglers undetected. This works really well and we end up passing well over 30 people in the process. I know we went into the woods upper lead pack so I start thinking about how hard I am going and try to set my own pace at this time. Mark also eases off the throttle and we find a smooth group of riders cruising at about the same pace. Body feels good, legs feel great, bike is handling perfectly...Now we are racing! Too much fun!

Reality check: This would have worked well if it were not for how eel-skin slippery the trails were because of the rain. People were slipping left and right on any little root in any given spot.


I had not realized the severity of this critical situation even after watching a guy go down nearly 10 riders in front of us (and find out later he had broken his hip)! In my mind, my only concerns were to set and keep my pace, drink often and ride a strong first and second lap, backing off on the third and punching out the last. All of a sudden, I am flat on my left side, helmet grinding across a root face, with my body soaking up the entire blow. The air being forced from my body let out a massive bellow and I simply slid right off the trail into the bushes. I had slipped on a massive angled root. It was over before I knew it and later I would realize the damage that had been done. Some riders from behind witnessed it and stopped to make sure I was alright, shocked by the hard crash they had seen. I simply said go on, I will be fine...(not!) I let/watched 5-6 riders fly by me and limped my way back on my bike hoping I could shake this off. For the time being, I lost my entire focus on the race and simply ghost pedaled my way through the remaining few miles left in lap #1 thinking I should go ahead and DNF. Upon arrival, I decided to not DNF and try and ride a slow second lap to find my pace again. Did not happen...I entered the woods for my second lap and really started to feel the pain setting in. Left hip, elbow, neck, mid back...all over the left side...pain. I cruise through lap# 2 in good form, but the pain was really wearing on me. I enter lap# 3 and think I should have stopped to relax a bit before taking off again, but I really wanted to find my speed again. I lose a ton of energy from my body at this point trying to manage the pain and stop to pop some Advil to help out with that. It seems to make things worse as my legs start locking up and I start getting wicked cramps. Nothing seems to help with the pain and onset of fatigue...

The downward spiral begins...

1/3rd of the way through lap# 3, I start to feel a rush of riders start passing me. I simply had given up the fight. It was not my day to race. I hadn't felt this terribly during a race since Cowbell and only because of extreme heat had that happened. I decided I did not want to DNF, so I start the deathmarch. It was some ugly deathmarch...Stephen Janes catches me at a open spot in the field as I was waiting out some debilitating cramps and looks in great form! He asks if everything was ok and if I needed anything, I say no thanks quickly to him to allow him to keep his speed and he flies by as I cheer him on! A few minutes later, Mike Pierce comes up on me crawling up goat hill and also checks on me. I basically tell him I am not going to quit and will figure out a way to finish this thing...He is also moving along at a great pace! I start back up and do the cramp dance every 2-3 miles pissed at myself for falling, not sleeping enough, not eating enough, possibly overdrinking too much fluid, etc...simply pissed. Fully upset with myself, I feed on that energy and get a little momentum going. I finish Lap# 3 and stop to guzzle down some cold water. Before I let myself relax, I go out for Lap# 4. I find routine in this lap and also a little comfort knowing I won't have to trudge up this trail anymore today. I find myself climbing areas I had not earlier and although still shaky, I am not cramping up as often. I actually clean the clay hill climb from earlier which I had only cleaned during lap# 1. I am shocked that my legs are actually semi-working again. Pissed at myself again for coming back to life so late in the game. I actually felt more in control during this lap than #3. I finish Lap# 4 satisfied I had not quit.

Total Time: 5:58:41
Place: "DFL" (last place SS) :(

Pain factor during race: 85%
Overall in-race fun: 90%

Hanging out with friends after the race: Priceless...(Beer and Advil really helped)

Today I am truly feeling the after effects. MY hip is purple. My elbow slightly bruised and tender and my neck muscles are super sore...my back keeps spasming and my body all over has a truly worked over feel to it. I haven't really felt this poorly after a race in a very long time. Not to mention the scores are posted and I left thinking I was in 15th place to find out I am in DFL place...

This might mean a little time off the bike to let things work their way back into place...but I think its for the best...(we shall see how long that lasts)

more thoughts on this race fiasco to come I am sure...


Friday, August 21, 2009

Daniel Island 5k finale...

Since I had just ridden a pretty tough race on Saturday, I was just not feeling like running on Thursday, so instead of just quitting altogether, I decided to do something much cooler... I actually paced Marsha through her last 5k run and I believe I helped her gain 2 minutes on her previous times...It was a nice pace for myself and a bit more pressure for Marsha. Overall, it was a good decision for myself as the running helped shake out my legs and keep my heartrate from surging too much. It was a great experience to wrap up the series running along with "wifey" since she is really the reason I am even running in the first place...So, our first 5k series is wrapped up and we are already looking forward to a few more of these little runs, maybe even a 10k in the future....I, myself, have found my stride and feel much more comfortable running and will continue doing so in order to fulfill my cross-training requirements as well as enjoy the simple peace of mind that running gives a person...

Dahlonega, Georgia...

After my Fool's Gold race writeup, I never really got to write about how nice it was to visit up there in Dahlonega, Ga...It is definitely a hidden gem in the foothills...It's one of those "blink your eyes and you might miss it" driving through type of towns, but it was definitely full of charm! Since I was focusing on the race, I had not been expecting much out of the town I was staying in since there is never really time to take it all in before and usually after a race...

Local Blueberries for dessert!

Good thing I stayed as a guest of the Hall's or I would have never had any relevant information on the town hosting this tough endurance race. Did you know Dahlonega was site for the first real "gold rush" in the US? If you are a Deadwood buff like myself, then this is a neat fact! Anyways, Dave's mom & dad were a treasure trove for information and I really enjoyed their time while there. I actually stayed right down the road from "Dahlonega Square", which is a really nice little square with lots of shops and antiquities nested with restaurants and lots of churches. I was amazed by the number of people frequenting about on Sunday throughout the square. It was filled with motorized mountain goers, family members and lots of casual tourists all centered around a building labeled the Dahlonega Gold Museum.

Speaking of Gold, during the race, I had my head down plenty enough during my long arduous uphill hikes to realize there was a reason for the name of the race. Mostly everywhere I looked, pyrite was littered into the rocks strewn along the trail. Fool's Gold! It was beautiful in the noonday sun. I actually brought home a small nugget for my daughter's rock collection.

During my race on Saturday, around 48 miles in, I passed by some amazing falls very close to Camp Wasega. I believe they were called Black Falls, but I am not sure. Riding up along the river on my bike, the water had slowed up into a dark glassy pool and then suddenly a telltale dividing line where it fell down a smooth edge about 10-20 feet onto the rocks below. It was beautiful and it begged me to stop for a short moment (I really enjoyed stopping). I entertained the notion of staying out there and swimming for a moment, but then came around and started pedaling to the finish once again. I marked it on my GPS, so a casual return visit to the falls will be in order.

Lunch for myself on Sunday was at a slightly shabby little place called Foothills Diner. While I was apprehensive at first, it was pretty tasty for diner food! I will have to go there again next time I am in town.

Dahlonega is definitely a must repeat experience!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Fools Gold 2009

In a nutshell, Fool's Gold was a lot of "fun" for an endurance race...

To better define an "endurance race" as "fun", it would be better to add descriptors like: pain, intense, excruciating, anguish, fear, suspense, pain, dehydration, nauseous, excitement, speed, hiking, loss of hope, optimism, stubborn tenacity, and more pain...

This race hurt bad....I do believe Dahlonega Georgia has some of the tougher mountain bike trails out there...Bull Mountain to be exact...my lower insides still hurt!

I rode up to Ga with Dave Hall of Terrapin Beer and found ourselves arriving early on Friday with some time to pre-ride the course...It turned out to be quite a wakeup call for me since I was not expecting such tough climbs...33x21 seems too tall now, but I stuck to my choice. The first ascent up Bull Mtn was kind of like a water runoff line going down the mountain with just enough of an edge to dig into with lots of roots and rocks thrown in for a good challenge. I found it immediately impossible to keep my heartrate down and just redlined it all the way up stopping to catch my breath at the top. Dave had charged way ahead of me and falls back to see where I am at and asks if I was also having trouble keeping my heartrate down and we both conclude that this is some pretty relentless climbing...After 10 miles, I finally find my legs and we wrap up 10 more miles including some great rolling singletrack, calling it a day..good fun stuff..

After an excellent night's feast and wonderful quarters as a guest of the Hall residence, 5 am arrives and it is time to race the 50 miler...Of course, this is when everything happens so fast that your head starts to spin, so before I knew it, I was suited up, energized, and sitting in a large pack of racers ready to do the challenge...I roll up to the pack with Mark Sackett and we soon find Stephen Janes awaiting nervously for the start. The 100 milers had just taken off and we were up next. After some chatter, we hear 3-2-1 GO! We are off like a bunch of frantic bees trying to find a way out of the grassy start field...Immediately, there is a crash right before the grass meets the gravel and holds up a massive pile of riders behind...After some joking and anticipation, we are off and rolling up the primary gravel road...I "switch on race mode" and start finding a spot in the crowd to settle into my pace...I am soo far in back and notice their pace is so much slower than mine, so I spin up further and after about 50 or more riders passed, I find a nice open spot to settle into. I start focusing on heartrate and a relaxed cadence. Pedal, drink, relax...so far, so good. I find the first hour climb to start getting steeper and steeper. I finally adjust my pedal stroke and start to standup climb...Man, this hurts! Estimating the climb to be about 5 miles, I start to fall into a zone. I look back and realize there is noone behind me for quite a ways, so I ease back on the energy output and try to focus on conserving. It was too quiet for too long...all of a sudden Mark comes up beside me and says hey Joel! Surprised, I lose my momentum for a moment, but realize many others are closing in on me...Mark and I pull ahead and simply ride along smoothly uphill for a mile or so. I get bored and frustrated with a few gearies passing by so fast, that I fall in behind them and start trying to draft them. This works for a good while and I end up lowering my heartrate as well. We arrive at some downhill sections and start flying along with some full suspension gearies buzzing right past me.. I always play it a bit more held back on downhill gravel road descents. SAG#1 is fast and I switch bottles out and blaze on...total stop time:20 seconds. We enter some tight, twisty, fast singletrack and I open it up and quickly gain positions on more than 4 gearies in the woods. My bike is meant for exactly this kind of terrain and I find myself finally having some fun! It is around this point in time I realize I am finally racing, and not just trying to survive an endurance race. Mark is a daredevil and entered the woods ahead of me, but I track right up on him in the singletrack and we end up riding back and forth like this for about 20 miles...I skip SAG #2 charge up Bull Mtn exactly like yesterday's preride. This is where the music stops and the record scratches because my wonderful legs just decided to go on an abrupt strike. It was totally my fault. I started conserving water after skipping SAG#2, but forgot to eat entirely and started making up for that mistake too late in the game I believe. I physically stopped, popped some endurolytes, washed it down with water, and started walking to flush out the legs, but the pain kept my legs twanging like banjo strings. Every wrong move up a climb at this point had me encountering a new muscle group in my legs. After giving the salt a chance to get me out of my rut, I switched to Honey Stinger Gels...wonderful product. These little shots of natural sugars, really kicked in and helped bring me back to life, but the bursts were short and I was really forcing my legs to give me more, not to mention, that the climbs at Fool's Gold were relentless and unforgiving. I ended up bonking and entirely considering giving up more than once. I switched out bottles at SAG#4 and trudged my bike up the loop thereafter. I definitely walked/hiked a lot on this section since the climb was so unbelieveably steep and rocky...At the 40 mile marker, I reached deep into my head convinced my body that I was almost done. Somehow, I was able to mount my saddle again and start pedaling over all the climbs which presented themselves on the way to the finish...48 miles in I was flying along legs back to normal and excited that I was going to finish this race...52 miles later, I was deliriously happy to be crossing a creek at Camp Wahsega realizing it was all over. Finishers received a bar of personal travel soap from Sudstress which I put to use shortly thereafter!

My official GPS trip time was 5:46.25. Overall, I am very happy with my results and see a large amount of improvement in time next year since I "plan" on doing the 100 miler... Unfortunately, that is all I have in terms of placement results since the official results people at this event very not organized at all. Surprisingly, only top 3 in all categories received awards/mention, WHAT? Too bad for them since I was not the only one disappointed by this glaring omission in results feedback which does not fall well within expectations when based on a unusually high entry fee...Hopefully they will get their systems together by next year...or the quote "A fool and his money are soon parted" will ring more true than ever @ Fool's Gold

Nonetheless, BIG thanks to Terrapin and Sweetwater for all the beer I could possibly drown in after this mentally exhausting event. Thanks to the event promoters in charge of nutrition, as there was great food available throughout the day! Delicious subs and tons of high-end pasta!

Congratulations to Dave Hall on the 5th place finish...(MTB Race news mentioned top 5)

Congratulations to Stephen Janes for kicking it into high-gear and making it through the 50 miler!

Congratulations to Mark Sackett for building a rigid singlespeed beast the week before the event just to race against me and kick my butt...That was too much fun man!


Monday, August 10, 2009

DuPont State Forest

I drove out to DuPont State Forest on Sunday and really had a chance to explore some of the trails I only get to ride once a year. Brad and I rode up there hoping to meet up with a racer friend of mine but he was not answering his cell phone, so we assumed he had a rough night and was not going to make it out to be our trail guide...so we went all the way to Brevard's Sycamore cycles and purchased a trail map to make sure we didn't miss anything once under way. I also got some nifty wool Pisgah Works socks since I have been wearing through socks lately. 45 minutes behind schedule, we finally suit up and are on our way through the forest! I am geared for an easy day with a 33x23 gearing and am really hoping to enjoy my "Kick-Ass Cog" from Endless Bike Co. DuPont is really crowded with creek wading tourists and lots of horseback riders...not too many mountain bikers surprisingly! The trails are, as always, butter smooth and well maintained. We head straight out to Bridal Veil Falls, and from there start climbing up Corn Mill Shoals Trail and decide to first climb Burnt Mtn. We climb it the hard way and I actually clean most of the climbs! I am really enjoying my gearing choice since there are very few flats for me to end up spinning out on. Burnt Mtn descent is fast and smooth with perfect jumps around every corner! Brad is now loving his first trip out to DuPont and I mention he will really enjoy the Cedar Rock climb. Cedar Rock is a unique mountain climb in that it starts to clear out closer to the top and you wind up climbing on granite rock walls for the last mile or so...It makes you feel like you are not going to have enough traction, but you actually do! We make it to the top and take a quick break at the crossing sign before deciding on a descent. We take the most scenic one and Brad takes off ahead since he is a much faster descender on the full suspension. I hug the brakes a bit and then start picking lines to get some speed built and soon catch up to him still descending. What a fun climb that was! After a bit of exploring to find a quicker way back to base camp to refuel, we decide the only clear way back is Corn Mill Shoals Tr. We return back via a few creek crossings, refuel and head towards Triple Falls...this area had a nice descent tucked away in there near Hooker Falls, but not enough to satisfy...so we trudge on and find a unique climb named Ridgeline Trail ...this trail is a super clean climb and I mention this is going to be an awesome descent as well! After climbing for what seems forever, we reach a loop named Hickory Mtn Loop. We decide to do the loop in order to align us back onto the Ridgeline trail going downward...I paid no attention to the elevation profile for Hickory Mtn Loop and pedal on entering the loop counterclockwise...WOW, what a mean vertical climb that was! IT kept climbing up and up and up with no switchback to ease the pain and suffering, slippery gravel, loose rocks, nothing certain to sink my tread into, kept me weaving back and forth up the climb like a sidewinder...The only good thing I can say is that I climbed it on my SS with no stops. I simply did not want to end up walking up this beast of a hill...we reach a false plateau and continue climbing upward...finally reaching the true summit. It was nice and cool up there at around 3000 feet! I take a quick hydration break and we start the downward plunge! Half a mile into the rocky Hickory Mtn Loop descent, Brad gets a nasty pinchflat. We stop, Brad fixes, we resume...IT was one heck of a wild downhill ride! Berms everywhere! Smooth grippy flats and turns...too much fun! We finish up riding along the highway for about a mile back to basecamp, me spinning like mad because of my gearing choice, but happy to have ridden such great trails today! We break down our gear, guzzle a recovery drink, then have a nice COLD beer from my cooler and talk about the great trails we had just been on...cooled down, we make our way back to Charleston fully spent from so much great trail riding!

Happy Trails!


GPS Data:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Daniel Island 5k #3

I truly believe I overdid it yesterday...

While this was my second 5k in a series of 4, I wish it was my second in order to simply be able to drop this time from my results...27:45! 5 minutes lost from my last time!
However, I do believe after talking with my personal trainer/wifey, that I did a ton of wrong things leading up to an event like this.

First, I haven't really been running lately. I was actually knee deep in trying to finish up a software project which is way overdue.

I have been riding my bike when and if I can, but it is sooo different from running.

Worst of all, I rode 30 miles a few hours before running my 5k, in near 100degree weather...
I also ate a bowlful of potato salad right after my ride and before my 5k. Big MISTAKE!

The strange part is I felt fine starting the 5k run, then hit a wall nearing the 1.5 mile mark. The course had also been changed once again and felt oddly longer than last time...I was not the only one to comment on this...

I actually had to stop and walk during a certain point since my legs felt like weights and my heart was jumping up my throat, not to mention the stitch in my side probably from eating earlier...it was a bad feeling...I knew my time would suffer, but not that badly since I was fast walking when I did stop.

Upon finishing, I asked a few runners if they felt the course was longer and most everyone agreed the course felt much longer...and everyone's times were off by around 2.5 minutes! ODD?

Anyways, I felt like crap and couldn't even get in a cooldown walk, so I jumped in the car and went home...

Upon getting home, I showered, changed, crawled downstairs made myself a huge chocolate milk protein shake and started grilling dinner and playing with the dog...feeling tired and fine, but not destroyed. Then as dinner was completing, something went funky in my body and I felt as if every bit of energy from my body had been instantly zapped. I crashed on the couch, forced down dinner and sat there suffering...my head started hurting beyond understanding, my body felt queasy, and I thought I was going through caffeine withdrawals again, but I have not been drinking a ton of coffee lately! I asked wifey to make me a hot cup of coffee to try and quell the strange feelings, but the coffee did not make a dent in my current status...I decided to try and just go to bed. Took 2 advil and I sat in bed for 30 minutes, feeling nauseous, before I ended up in the bathroom and losing last night's dinner. After washing up and once again retiring to bed, I felt much better and finally found sleep. Woke up refreshed and ready for the day...

Was this heat exhaustion? I don't know as I have never directly experienced it...either way it was a terrible experience and will have to monitor myself closer during stressful exercise...


Monday, July 27, 2009

Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell

The 2009 Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell is in the books! I survived and I actually met my one main goal, which was to finish in under 8 hours! Considering my last year's time was 11:19, I was very happy to find out I completed ORAMM this year in 7:49! On a singlespeed too! How awesome is that? No major cramping, no flat out bonks...cleaned all climbs, and scorched all downhills...it felt so good to be able to just keep moving! 2009 ORAMM ran like a well oiled machine. Veterans of previous years also agreed this year was like clockwork.
I drove up to Old Fort Saturday early morn and decided to get in a little heartrate tempo training with a ultra light climb up Curtis Creek from the 2 bridges where it gets really steep. I rode up it with little or no effort. This was great and my heartrate peaked, I held it for a while and then let off with some smooth downhill action and repeated a smaller interval. I then packed up my stuff, and checked into the Comfort Inn where I quickly prepped my feedbags, and gear for tomorrow. Afterwards, I drove into Old Fort, registered, talked with a few friends, new and old and proceeded to hunt down a dinner spot.

Dinner consisted of Smokey Que's BBQ...Chicken, Catfish, BBQ pork with beans, potato salad, hush puppies, yum yum! (predinner has not yet been whittled down to a science, but I am working on it) Afterwards, straight to motel room and bed.

My Race Report:

6am came insanely fast, and before I knew it, we were rolling out onto Old 70. I was sticking to the plan by not going out hard and let many riders by in an effort to control my pace, but after seeing too many people in front of me hiking up Kitsuma, I decided to start turning up the juice just a little. I had a nice climbing pace going for about 20-30 good solid minutes where I passed dozens of gearies spinning away in their granny gears.I just kept ringing my bell and cutting through the masses. I think the shaved off 10 minutes or so as I still was knee deep in traffic hiking up Kitsuma. The downhill was no different. Stop and go the entire time...lots of unsure riders were ahead and even some who had never pre-ridden the course! So I finally make it to rest stop#1 and quickly swap out my bottles for 2 more of my own. I realize that the Kitsuma descent knocked my endurolytes and chamois cream packet out of my pocket so I now have no Electrolytes! I roll on trying to figure out what to do about this problem. I immediately start chugging my Nuunz water bottle to at least restore a few bits of lost salt, but I know Nuunz isn't concentrated enough to fully replenish like 3-4 endurolytes can(hint Nuunz Concentrate?). I also chew on a few pieces of Honey Stinger Chews and they perk me back up within minutes, so off I go to Lower Heartbreak ridge to hike some more up to StarGap. At this point I realize I have been hiking more than biking and not because I am undergeared, but because there are way too many people still jammed up in front of me.

Traffic Jams are Very frustrating...

I also realized hiking was taxing my heartrate much more than simply sitting in the saddle and spinning, so I start trying to ride and pass hikers. It works for a while, but some of the hikers are all over the path, so back into the queue I go. Not having endurolytes starts to worry me, but I hit Stargap with a bit of extra charge and try and hold a steady pace. I back off for a while anticipating the climb up Curtis Creek coming up. StarGap is uneventful and over with before I know it. Rest Stop#2 arrives and 2 bottles are swapped out. I look around for free endurolytes, but there are none to be found. I quickly take off again realizing I just lost a few minutes...I zap up a shot of Honey Stinger Gold gel and wash it down with Nuunz H20. This works well and does not seem to shock my system. Smooth ride until midway up Curtis Creek, I spot my wife taking pictures and ask her to load me up with endurolytes from the car. She ziplock baggies me a dozen or so tablets, I take a few and continue on up Curtis Creek. I roll through various forms of digestive issues since so much is going through my system right now and finally I feel everything start to normalize. The quivering crampy onsets are gone, I have a little pickup to my step and I start to do some standup climbing. It is difficult, but I find my rhythm and make up lost time. I might actually use a 23tooth cog next year...we shall see. I arrive at Rest Stop #3 and reload 2 fresh cold bottles Perpetuem and Nuuns H20. I chug a mini-coke and eat half a Honey Zinger Peanut Powerbar. I change into fresh full finger gloves for the Heartbreak descent and continue on to Rest Stop#4 The out n back leading to rest stop #4 is long and arduous and really taxes your patience. I arrive at Rest Stop #4 and quickly swap bottles and move out fast. I cruise up the road to HeartBreak Ridge excited knowing I am somewhat making up for lost time earlier. The hike a bike up to HeartBreak seems almost twice as long as before but I finally get moving and fast! The descent down HeartBreak is fun and smooth, taking some risks and losing no momentum. Finally, I see train tracks and arrive at Rest Stop#5! I stupidly swap out my bottles again, only to realize I had not taken a drink since Rest Stop#4 since I was descending the entire time! Lost time! I speed off and start the ridiculous trudge up Mill Creek Ridge gravel road...This road seems to wind on forever and I start to complain out loud, "is it ever going to end" ??! Then, like some mysterious dejavous, I am hiking back up Kitsuma, slower than before since I am feeling drained. I pass people trying to ride their bikes up the switchbacks and continue onwards. I plan on making up my lost time on the descent. I arrive at the true top of Kitsuma and let off the brakes. I approach 25 miles an hour and start hopping around. Kitsuma felt rougher on the descent than Heartbreak and repeating it really hurts. I pass 3 riders on the descent. I get out on the final stretch towards the finish and ride along with a fellow singlespeeder who has taken a few falls today. He seems in great spirits and we end up riding in together. I arrive to see a few of my friends already finished and lots of cold beer on tap! I immediately grap a cup of celebratory beer and gulp it down! Success! What a great day!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Follow the leaders!

Something radically awesome and uber geeky is happening this year at ORAMM! I, myself, being a techhead, first and foremost, have been checking out this technology for quite some time now. It was shown successful at the Great Divide earlier this year and now officially hits the most important race on the calendar, ORAMM!

Here it is quoted straight from a quote from Team Dicky's Blog:

We're going to be testing out a new thing this year...GPS tracking. A handful of the top riders will be equipped with a GPS unit that will track their movements on a fancy little computer program. This should allow us to give spectators an accurate idea of when the top finishers will be crossing the finish line. Pretty cool. Thanks to AMB i.t. (Champion Chip) for making this possible. We look forward to seeing how this new technology will work for backcountry mountain biking.

Now remember, when the leader finishes the race, simply add 4 more hours and you should get my time, roughly, give or take an hour... :)

More information here: http://blueridgeadventures.blogspot.com/2009/07/gps-race-tracker.html

This is going to be some kind of cool!


Monday, July 20, 2009

ORAMM PreRide Report

July 11th saw me up in Old Fort, parked at the foot of Curtis Creek for a ORAMM pre-ride scouting trip. The plan was to ride up Curtis Creek Road, then ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway, descend down HeartBreak Ridge, then fork off and go across StarGap ending up back at the car.

The initial part of the ride was fully experimental and simply to satisfy my curiosity as to how I would probably fare on a singlespeed climbing this neverending 9.2 mile gravel road. I also had a "secret" gear combo I was using which I had my doubts about, but am now certain it will work fine for most of ORAMM...

Upon starting the climb, I thought I was never going to finish this ascent since I am not the worlds strongest climber, but I can maintain, so I found a steady pace I could hold and basically just kept it right there and enjoyed the sounds of nature. The grades on the road ranged from 10-20 degrees! I would guess about 90% of the climb was done standing up and carefully listening to my heartrate monitor. It was intense at times and I did desire to stop on the side of the road a few times and simply walk, but I resisted and before I knew it, I had completed the climb and the rest was adrenaline history...riding the Blue Ridge Parkway on a singlespeed was interesting, yet liberating..the views were incredible and I felt great relief after having made it to the top of this climb...

Heartbreak was not that bad actually, although my hands still burned from holding the brakes so tight, but the switchbacks were manageable and the speed was insane! Stargap was a mess and needs to be mowed down(I do not look forward to this part of the ride next week)

Overall, about 3 hours riding time...some time was wasted seeing the sights up top and being a typical tourist. Equipment held up really well and nutrition notes were taken. Excellent day and worth the time making the trip!

1 week until ORAMM!

Trip GPS recap:

Check out this Garmin Connect activity: ORAMM Scouting Trip


Daniel Island 5k results...

I got 43rd out of about 160 in my first 5k run series. I ran it in 22:00mins. There were some really fast people out that day! I have 3 more races to do in the series to best that position and time. I think I can do better. I just did not know what to think that first time out. Running in a series race event is much different than just running around the block for a few miles. The race left my body pretty weak and hurting all over, but my recovery is still pretty good and I was able to pre-ride a race course up in the mountains a few days later with a decent results expectation. As with everything, learning just never ends...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back at it...

This weekend was a nice escape from reality....I watched the Tour de France, tweaked on my bikes, rode my motorcycle around for awhile and tended to a delicious pulled pork shoulder which smoked with applewood and hickory for 7 hours straight...the meat slid right off the bone...it was tender, moist, and extremely flavorful...my mustard sauce was a hit and I will be putting that one in my recipe book as a must repeat....That evening, I spun on the spin bike at medium resistance for 1.5 hours watching Babylon AD, (which sucked), Sunday, cooked tons of shishkabobs which the Wifey put together for us and I cooked them in traditional street vendor style out back with lots of steam, smoke and taste...oh so good! Finished off the day at the pool on Sunday and enjoyed a bit of downtime with some nice tasty craft beers!

Monday; work, errands and a light 2 mile run to get back into the swing...followed by 10 miles on the bike with the new equipment onboard...

Rotor Q-Ring installed, new tires with more bite installed...cleaned the chain, adjusted the saddle once again...rode very compact and responsive..I can't wait to really try out the new Q-Ring tonite!

2.5 weeks until ORAMM!!!!!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Weekend Plans...

With all my training I am squeezing in, it is hard to realize the 4th of July weekend is almost upon us! I am going to go out today or tomorrow and load up on mortars this year...I personally think those attract the most ooohs and ahhhs...and they come out to about the same as buying one of those funky sketchy variety packs...so mortars are in for me. As for a little bit of a training setback, I am also plannin on smokin a double stack of Boston Butt with Dre's Special Butt Rub to share with all our neighbors when we get together for our 4th of July dinner. I will be smoking the butts for about 8-10 hours starting early Saturday morning and it should be ready just in time for the festivities... I am also thinking of a mustard sauce instead of a standard vinegar sauce, so this will put a spin on things...

Of course the Tour de France starts Saturday, so I will be able to watch some exciting racing while the butts slow cook..I think there is a FIFA Soccer game on too!

mmm..South Carolina Pulled Pork! Can't wait...
of course this means an extra long bike ride on Sunday....woohoo!

ITS Going to be a GREAT Weekend!!!!!


Training again...

I am sitting here a little sore from pushing myself a bit harder these past few days to get ready for ORAMM as well a few upcoming Twilight 5k runs. I started Monday in the evening with a light spin on the SS MTN bike around the neighborhood about 10 times which adds up to about 8-10 miles at a nice high smooth cadence. I then did a light cooldown and parked the bike and ran a moderate pace 5k based on my wife's instructions on how to navigate the neighborhood to equal out a 3.1 mile distance properly. I pulled it off in about 25 minutes. I felt good throughout and never once felt any leg or calf strains from exertion. I am a believer in thoroughly warming up my muscles with a bike ride before running. It is a much better transition. Tuesday was a followup in the evening with a night spin through the woods at Marrington. I rode from 8:30-10pm and the trail was full of previous storm debris which meant lots of hike-a-bikes. My Ay-Up! lights were fantastic, ultra light and never faded. Today will be nothing more than a 1 hr light spin session indoors on the spin bike followed by a light run of an unknown distance. I plan on riding my Mtn Bike to the Bridge tomorrow and doing some climb intervals. As you can tell, I am trying to stick to one bike to really get familiar with it. This is a new technique to my training for upcoming MTB race events. Friday will be either a light run, surfing, or a easy mtb trail ride...hopefully surfing if there are waves...

so far feelin real good....

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 climbs...you name it, this course had it...a true challenge....

Lap 3 saw me finally entering a zone, but something still did not feel right...my legs were still not altogether there and I was just not wanting to be there anymore...it 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 2...so 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)