Monday, December 24, 2007

Back in the saddle............

Whoohooo, after three weeks off the bike (outside anyway), I got to return to some significant saddle time yesterday at Bays Mountain. I hooked up with a few pals and we did a nice 2 hour base building ride. I struggled with keeping my heart rate down (which is hard to do on some of the climbs at BMP) and did a pretty good job with that. Training and racing on a singlespeed however is a little different than on a geared bike and there are some climbs that you just cannot do without pushing yourself pretty hard.
I was a good boy though and stayed at or below my preset limit of 150 the whole day. It felt really good to get out of the garage and on some trails. It was good for me physically and mentally too.

My injuries are almost fully healed up (although I was a little sore this morning on the right side of my back where I got hurt).

Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for next year...............................................

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Welcome Ergon

It's official. Ergon has teamed up with Vassago Cycles for 2008 . I have been using their grips for about a year now and absolutely love them. There is no other grip out there that offers the comfort and control that Ergons do over the long haul.

I can't wait to try their packs and gloves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Misc. Ramblings

The off season has officially descended onto Duckman's territory and you know what that means - plenty of eating, beer drinking and just hanging out.

Um, no.

I have been laying around quite a bit more than normal. I am healing still from bruising my guts a couple of weeks ago. I have also been training for next year and laying down plenty of practice on my guitar. I managed to get on my bike for 7 hours last week, all in front of the tv in my garage and all on rollers. I love riding rollers especially for base building. You have to think and concentrate on rollers unlike a stationary trainer. You can crash pretty hard if your attention gets a little low. I know from experience. Therefore riding rollers is not as mind-numbingly boring as a trainer.

It also helps to have a good supply of DVDs, music and a fan to blow air on you.

It turns out that bruising my lung is one of the most painful and long lasting injuries I have ever had. I haven't slept worth a crap in a month because I cannot get comfortable no matter what. I haven't been on a bike outside since Dec 1 and that sucks although I have been on the rollers almost every day so it's not so bad.

While some more fortunate ones are living it up in warmer climates, I will gut it out here in the sub-arctic and slowly hack out a nice solid base of fitness for the upcoming racing season.

Peace out.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Back to Business

Ok kids the R&R is over and it is time to get focused on next year. For me, the focus began yesterday when I was forced by injury to sit out the last Cross race of the Mud,Sweat and Gears Series and it was a doozy. Rain, mist and temps in the mid-forties, just the kinds of conditions I do best in, greeted racers as they navigated another Dwayne Letterman brilliantly designed course at Winged Deer Park. It was tough standing there watching when I'd rather have been racing but it was my own fault. I broke my first two rules of riding:

1. Know when to say no. When the risk is to much for the potential gain just walk (or ride)away.

2. Know when your body is telling you to give it a rest.

I shot myself in the foot by racing on an injury that should have been rested and I got that injury by doing something that was to risky to even try in the first place. It's not the first time I have done this and probably won't be the last. I guess there is hope though.

My training plan for 2008 was to have started last week but I just postponed it a week or so and I believe I am well enough to start base training now. I hopped on the trainer today for 1.5 hours and that went really well. The next 12 weeks are going to be focused on building a strong aerobic base, building core strength, increasing flexibility and, here it comes,

losing some weight.

I have alot of power and I know that my best bet for increasing my performance is losing some weight as opposed to building more power ( I plan to do both but losing weight is more bang for the buck at this point).

With that, here's what my next week looks like:

Monday - 1.5 hours in zone 1-2 (may be split in two workouts)
Tuesday - 1.5 hours in zone 1-2 (may be split in two workouts)
Wednesday - 2.0 hours outdoors in zone 2-3 (may opt to do this one inside this week pending how my ribs feel)
Thursday - 30 min - spin
Friday - off
Saturday - 2.0 hours in zone 1-2
Sunday - 1.0 hour free time (I can ride however I want)

I have stretches planned every other day and core work will begin next week if I feel like it. I am to sore still right now to even think about it.

This is going to be really hard for me as there is alot of zone 1-2 stuff in my plan which is really boring but very necessary. That's why I gave myself a free day to do whatever I want. Anyhoo, this is the basic plan for the next 4 weeks and then it will get changed up a little.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

We all just wanna be big rock stars

and live in hilltop houses, driving 15 cars...........

slipknot sponge bob

Um......Something different...

B.B. King - Blues Boys Tune

He's 80+ years old folks!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Stevie Ray Vauhgan- Little Wing Live

Who can mention great guitar without mentioning SRV.

(He's playin' a Fender! Boo-ya)

Steve Vai - G3 Denver

Check out the bottom neck. It is fretless.


Ok Now What?

Well, it turns out me racing last weekend was way over the top on the I f**ked myself scale. After the race, I was coughing up blood and a ER visit later told me I had bruised my ribs in the crash Wednesday (I could have told you that) but also I bruised my right lung and the cross race aggravated that hence the blood. The pain was and still is impressive.

So here I am surfing youtube videos with my trusty Ibanez and trying to learn Pentatonic scales and just making cool sounds. I won't be doing anything physical this week. No trainer, no push ups, no sit ups, no pull ups, no kettlebell, nothing that requires flexing my core muscles (which until you hurt yourself there, you cannot appreciate how much you use those muscles).

I am also anxiously awaiting the goodies that are being cooked up for the Vassago Endurance Team for 2008.

All I can say for now is we are going to be bigger and badder than ever. Some new signings this Winter have given us depth and strong talents that will be noticed nationwide next year.

But for now, all I can do is dream about next year and post up some kick ass music from the greatest guitarists on earth.

Steve Vai - For the love of god

Steve Vai is easily one of the greatest guitarists alive today.

Paul Gilbert Solo Viking Kong

Paul Gilbert is one of my favorites.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Well That @#%&@*% Hurt!

I am not known for my great ideas. In fact, I am probably more known for plodding onward the consequences be damned, sometimes to the point of the ridiculous. I am certain that when I die, it will be a combination of poor judgement, stubborness and sheer determination that kills me.

Case in point. On my regular Wednesday ride this week, me and my riding buddies were having a great time. We agreed to not race each other up and down the mountain like we did the week before and to have an easy ride and just hang out. Since that was off the table, I had to find another way to punish myself and that came in the form of a tree down across the trail. Due to the way it was situated, it is very difficult to ride and I had never ridden it - yet. I popped my front wheel on it, popped my rear wheel on it and got tangled up in Rhododendron and went down.
Fortunately, I got my foot out of my pedal in time to save me from very imminent doom.

Unfortunately, there was nowhere to plant it except air and I crashed hard. I hit the log with all my weight on my ribcage. The pain made me see 2 or 3 of everything.

The good news is nothing was broken and after I regained the ability to breathe, we rode on.

So, today was round 5 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Series. I am sitting in 6th place with a microscopic chance at the final podium spot for the series. What do I do?

Well the smart thing to do would be grab a cowbell and hang out with my pals and cheer everyone on while I take some time to heal.

Of course I raced it.

It was the most painful 30 minutes that I can remember having lived through recently. I gave it my best but by the second lap, I was wimpering uncontrollably everytime I had to jump a barrier or push real hard on the pedals. I started near the front but faded pretty quickly to 8th or 9th, heck I don't know. By the final lap, it hurt so much to breathe it was all I could do to roll across the finish line where I flopped onto the grass and just laid there for a few minutes.

I was kinda hoping someone would come and throw some dirt on me and get it over with but when that didn't happen. I went to the awards/raffle and then home.

I feel pretty good now as long as I don't move, breathe or blink, the pain is almost gone.

I hope I am healed by next week. It's double points don'tcha know!!!!

I read the news today, oh boy............

Evil Knievel died Friday in Florida. He was 69.

He was also a childhood hero of countless people (including yours truly). I can remember having Evil Knievel bikes, toys, lunchboxes and tons of other stuff. I can remember being riveted to Wide World of Sports and seeing him jump all kinds of stuff and being horrified when he'd get slammed to the ground like a rag doll but always, no matter how many bones were shattered, he always seemed to pop back up after a while to do it again.

I can remember putting up jumps and jumping stuff on my bicycle and like Evil, I'd occasionally get slammed to the ground (not as hard though) and just like Evil, I'd get back up and do it again.

So long Evil.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What's Next?

The fat lady is singing on the 2007 racing season and I have spent the past few days reminiscing over what was a big year for me. I grew up and started riding big boy wheels, I went way outside what I have been doing on the endurance scene and stepped up one rung on the freak ladder. I made some new friends and generally had alot of fun.

I have also been looking at 2008 and following suit on my 2007, 2008 looks to be another breakout year for me. I will begin in January with a few early season Cyclocross races, the Icycle in February and general base building for bigger fish that are to be fried later in the year. I won't take the early season races to seriously. They are just for fun and to gauge my fitness except for the Icycle where I will go there to just drink beer and ride my bike some with a number plate attached.

Probably the biggest thing for me is the 2008 National UltraEndurance Series (NUE) of which I plan to hit 5 of the 8 events (Cohutta 100, Mohician 100, Wilderness 101, Fools Gold 100 and the Shenandoah 100). That ought to be a hoot. Five races, 500 miles on a singlespeed.

Also on the list are the Bakers Dozen 13 hour race, 12 Hours of Tsali, the Burn 24, the Cowbell Challenge (aka 12 hours in the flaming woods of hell). I dunno, it gets a little foggy after that.

I have come a long way since the 2000 24 Hours of Snowshoe (thanks Rob - I think).

I am sure I'll find more creative and interesting ways to inflict pain on myself as the year goes on but for now, I guess I'd better train some huh?

Speaking of training. I have taken a couple of weeks to just ride my bike before I get back into structured training beginning Dec 1. The first 8 weeks will be base building and I plan to stick to the plan so to speak and build a base instead of riding my ass into the ground like I usually do.
I will sling some weights around and focus on my core muscles as they usually get hammered during the races.

I have more stucture in my training than I have had in some years. I feel that it is necessary for me so I can arrive at the Cohutta in April in the best form I have ever had.

That's the plan anyway.

So here's to a Winter of trainer rides, dark,cold, wet night rides and hours upon hours of riding at 130bpm.

Friday, November 16, 2007

MSG #4 - Tri-Cities Cup

Last Saturday at beautiful Steele Creek Park in Bristol, TN a showdown between the roadies of the Tri-Cities Road Club and the mountain bikers of the Northeast Tennessee Mountain Bike Association brought out the best of both clubs in a day long free-for-all to see who would take home the Tri Cities Cup for 2007.

Perhaps still stinging from their defeat in 2006, the roadies rallied their troops and came out in impressive numbers and at the end of the day, they ripped the cup from the cold, dead fingers of the defeated mountain bikers who could only drop their heads in shame.

I know because I fought the good fight and was bested by men in tights.

Fresh (or not so fresh) off of a five week tour that saw me in two cross races, a 40 mile enduro and two 12 hour races in consecutive weekends, I showed up at the venue and got to work warming up with teamate and training partner Bob Lamberson. Wearing the green colors of NTMBA instead of my familiar black and red Vassago stuff, I felt kinda funny for a minute but soon got past that as me and Bob hit some singletrack to warm up.
At the starting line, we lined up with Pro Andy Applegate, his Pro wife Cara and several red jerseys from TCRC. My legs felt good and I had a secret weapon in my 34X17 gearing I slapped on the night before to give me an edge on the long straights in the Dwayne Letterman designed course. We got underway and I immediately stuck to as close to the front as possible. It's always amazing to me how fast pros ride. For the first half lap or so, I could say I was in contact with the leaders but in reality, I was burning fuel like a Saturn V rocket on a trip to anaerobic hell. I backed off after the first lap and settled in behind Mike Mefford.

The laps were looong and tough. My secret weapon was doing me more harm than good methinks as I was laboring mightily on one certain climb that seemed to never end. By lap 3, I faded more and found myself right behind Cara and just ahead of Bob and my buddy Alan Sparks.

The pain train was rollin' and for the moment I was conducting but in real danger of checking out things in the caboose. Towards the end of lap 3, I tripped over a barrier like a dork and land right on top of the next one. Pain seared my thigh and I felt the blood leaving my body but I didn't have time to look. I picked my bike up and got back on just in time to see Alan stalking me like a dog (Bob already passed me). I tried to dump Alan but saw that that wasn't going to work so I went to plan B, wait it out and outsprint him.

That didn't work either and I ended up finishing 8th.

My leg hurt but that didn't really end up being to bad after I got it cleaned off.

It was a good race and now for a couple of weeks rest and recuperation before the final two rounds of the series to be held Dec 1 and Dec 8 in Johnson City.

Many thanks to Bart Nave and Wes Lamberson for the pics, to the 6 guys and one girl that finished ahead of me for the ass-whipping, to Dwayne, Eric and all the MSG Volunteers for putting on a great race ( and for the break-away barriers) and especially my sponsors: Vassago, WTB, White Bros, Bike 29 and Cane Creek.

Y'all are great.

Until next year you roadie dogs..............

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Think I'm In Love

A titanium Jabberwocky!!!

Dear Santa,

I want this bike. If you bring it I will be happy, if you don't. Hmmmm. Let's just say global warming will be the least of your worries................

(of course I am joking. Not about the bike though. I want that!!)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tri-Cities Cup

Round #4 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series gets underway tomorrow at Steele Creek Park in Bristol Tennessee. This is also the Tri-Cities Cup, a friendly competition between the Tri-Cities Road Club and the Northeast Tennessee Mountain Bike Association to see which club has more participation. Last year, NTMBA walked away with the top honors and the plan is to do the same again this year.

The slick-legged, day-glo jersey wearing roadies have been talking smack among themselves to try and rally the troops. This communique was intercepted from their camp:

Okay folks, It's time for the second annual "Tri Cities Cup" Last year we got it handed to us by the Mountain Bike Club. For Heaven's sake people we gotta win this year! We can't let those fat tire folk beat us at our own game again this year. Show some roadie pride and show up on some sorta bike and wear a TCRC old or new jersey (if you don't wear a jersey you don't count), and we have to set up a booth with our banner and info about the club. I don't think I can stand the shame of two losses in a row. If you have any TCRC pride at all lets show those sluggish, fat, big tired, smelly from rolling around in bear poop, rash covered, bug bitten, dirty, skinned up, tree slammin', salamander eatin', toothless mountain bikers, what us smoothed legged areodynamic, lean, svelte, god like roadies with tree trunk legs can do. Seriously folks this is all for fun but I would like to win, please? Win one for the baldy.

Sound like they are scared and they should be.

It must be shameful to have a poop eating, fat, old mountain biker on a bike with one gear whip your ass on your multi-thousand dollar uber-machine.

Poor roadies.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Damn, that's a big Raccoon. I've never hit a Raccoon before.

Those thoughts went through my head just moments after the furry little bandit passed within inches of my front wheel on my 9th lap of racing at the 2007 Treeshaker held this past weekend in Fort Mill, SC. He was running like his ass was on fire and his head was catching, I don't know what kept him from getting nailed.

The Treeshaker this year was way different from last year. First there was a new venue with a longer and more demanding course. Second the field was much more competitive. Dicky was there, breaking his moratorium on lap races, Vassago teamate Kevin Clark was there and several other fast guys. Another Vassago teamate - Chris Davis came but brought gears to give the other solo class guys someone to chase.

The race got underway promptly at 9:00am with a LeMans start that sucked ass like all the rest. It is no secret that I hate running and the premise of spreading out the field before they hit the woods is nice but it doesn't work. I spent the first lap following people that had to stop at every bridge, rock and downed tree and it was frustrating. That probably set me up to ride the next 2 hours way harder than I should and I was just digging a big hole for myself that would cost me later. Still, I was having fun. The course was really fast and had some fun twisty stuff and a little climbing near the end that would get alot of attention as the race got old. I rode my first couple of laps back to back and in the low 50 minute range. After lap 2, I stopped for about 1 minute to change bottles and grab a mouthful of Twizzlers. Leaving the transition area, I looked like a walrus with the gummy red treats hanging from both sides of my mouth but they are good. Powerbars taste like cardboard but I'll crawl through broken glass to get at a bag of Twizzlers. I save them for racing only.

I slowed myself down some and rode for awhile with Chris somewhere between laps 3-6 (they kinda run together after awhile). We parted after I could no longer keep his pace on the climbs. Dicky was keeping with the script and kicking all our asses. Kevin was hanging tough with consistent laps and he was holding in 3rd place.

Our Team Manager - Misty, came from MD to help with support. She and the Guinness Fairy (you know who you are) made a Starbucks run somewhere in the afternoon. To hell with Redbull, gimme Starbucks! I sucked down a Grande Cappuchino like a new calf sucking .....well you get the idea, and I felt great for a couple of laps (um......7 and 8 I think). The taxman from laps 1-3 came calling on lap 9 and I had to pay up. The few climbs on the course that were kittens early on grew into nasty, four-headed beasts with pointy teeth at the end. I finally had to walk some on my last 2 laps. I came to the end of lap 9 to the sound of Misty and the G.F. screaming their heads off with encouragement. Looking at the clock, I rode straight into lap 10 with hopes of 12 but realistically I'd be lucky to get 11 before the cut-off of 8:30. By then, I was riding real slowly on the climbs. There was a section called Sugar Island that had two climbs that really sucked. I rode the first but had to walk the second. Then, while lifting my rear wheel over a log crossing, my left calf cramped so hard that I screamed like a girl. I rode the log though and just pedaled with one leg for a bit until I got something going on again in my left one.
At the end of Lap 10, I had 4 minutes to get out on my last lap. I didn't go.

When I saw the results and saw that 4th through 7th were all at 10, I may have been able to do the math (after 90 miles on a bike, basic math skills are pretty much gone) and realize one more would put me in 4th - right behind Kevin.

Damn! I kicked myself after it was over.

It was all good though. Team Vassago got noticed and Kevin got 3rd with me 7th in the Solo Singlespeeds and Chris got 8th in the other Solo class.

And thus the end of my 2007 season (well almost the end, there's still 3 more Cross races) came at 8:24 pm and was heralded by the sound of a cold, creamy Guinness being popped in celebration.

A huge thanks to Misty and the Guinness Fairy for the Starbucks, the Cytomax, the screaming and the Guinness. You guys rock.

Thanks also to my sponsors: Vassago, WTB, White Bros and Bike 29. 2007 was fun, here's to 2008.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pick Up Your Balls

"And light up your cannons for a 21 gun salute. For those about to rock we salute you".

In the same manner, the 9th Annual 12 Hours Of the Hill of Truth began with the usual artillery blast that those who have done the race before have become accustomed to (though you never get used to that #$^#$ thing going off at 3 am. Can I get a witness).

I had the pleasure of riding this race on a team unlike my usual M.O. of doing these things solo. I hadn't raced on a team in a year and I forgot how much fun it can be. I also forgot how damn nerve racking it can be too. My team (NTMBA Factory Team that became Larry Roberts after registration) consisted of me, Bob Lamberson, Larry Roberts, and Wes Lamberson. In years passed, we were always a force to be reckoned with in the Vet class, winning 2 in a row and finishing 3rd on two other occasions. This year we signed up in the more competitive and growing singlespeed class. Our competition included a couple of fast local teams and a team of our friends - Grannys Rotten Teeth.
Beautiful weather greeted the 244 racers that lined up for the mass start (just say no to Le Mans starts- another reason to hate the French) and the cannon went off at 11:00 officially starting the race. Bob was our first guy out followed by me, Larry and then Wes. After the start, I went off to warm up. I figured Bob would be back in about 50 minutes and my plan was to ride every lap WFO so I needed to warm up really good. Bob came in in 51:00 (hey, I have raced with the guy for 5 years, I know my teamates) and off I went. GRT got a guy( good friend Brad Reed) in about a minute earlier and their #2 (Greg Carr) out so I had a rabbit to catch. Catch him is what I did. I caught Greg about 1/3 of the way through the lap and really tried to put as much time into him and GRT as possible. At the end of my first lap. we were up on them by about 2 minutes which put us loosely in 3rd. Two minutes isn't very much time, we needed more.

Fate stepped in however on Larry's first lap and he had bunches of trouble with his cleat and we lost a bunch of time. Wes had a solid 4th team lap but still at the end of the first rotation, we were in 4th and about 3 or 4 minutes back from 3rd. Bob and Brad duked it out on lap 6 and I set out again after Greg on lap 7. Near the end of lap 7, we were back in 3rd by a minute or so. Additionally, the 2nd place team had a bad lap due to a broken chain so 2nd through 4th were separated by only a couple of minutes. It was getting exciting.
Unfortunately, Larry's and our troubles were not over and at the end of the second rotation (lap 8) we were back in 4th by about 9 minutes. Mechanical failures are a part of endurance racing and we have benefited from them and been hurt by them over the years. It's racing. We learned long ago however to never, never, never ever give up as even long races can come down to just seconds at the end. Larry was awesome. He didn't let his problems get to him. He rode and ran as fast as he could to save as much time as possible. We were down but not out.
The rest of the race, we talked trash to our buddies and put as much pressure on them as we could. Both teams were turning in solid lap times into the dark and neither one of us were making any mistakes.
At 10:45, I was sitting in the transition area with Dr Skip (from Dr Skip's Medicine Show fame) and a bunch of friends from both teams. Greg had been out for about 10 minutes and I knew I wouldn't be able to run him down unless he had a slow lap. I took a couple of shots from the quart jar of "mountain nectar" that was going around and it warmed me up. Bob came in and I went out in pursuit of Greg. I rode my 4th lap (teams 14th) as hard as I could. It was nice to pass people again (in solo racing you learn to get passed ALOT! I hate getting passed). I was blowing by people that were really tired from the day of racing. I felt great (must have been the moonshine). When I got around to the hill of truth and didn't see any lights, I knew my last chance to get Greg was lost. I was happy. Those guys really rode their asses off to beat us and it made for one of the most fun and exciting races I have done in awhile.

We ended up 4th with 14 laps.

Grannys Rotten Teeth: (L to R) Brad Reed, Greg Carr, Anthony Duncan, Alan Sparks

Many thanks to John Baker and everyone that put on this race for giving us such a fun event and great venue; Thanks to my teamates Bob, Larry and Wes, that was fun; thanks to GRT for the competition; thanks also to Paul for the space in the camper; thanks to Bob for the beer lap treat.

Last but not least, thanks to Vassago and my other sponsors for your support.

You guys rock!

Friday, October 26, 2007

12 HOT

Team racing returns to Duckman's Racing Calendar this weekend at the 12 Hours of the Hill Of Truth in Oak Ridge Tennessee.

I will be 1/4 of the NTMBA Factory Team along with Bob Lamberson, Wes Lamberson and Larry Roberts. We are going with our sights set on Singlespeed Class supremacy.
It has been exactly one year since I rode on a team and I am excited to get a break so to speak from the rigors of solo racing and to be able to go all out each lap and hang out in between.

After last weeks MSG and Rowdy Dog, the 12 HOT will be just what I need to get me to the Treeshaker 12 Hour event next week in top form ( well top form for November. It's been a long year).

See y'all on the other side.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Epic Rides

I just got home from my Wednesday night ride at Buffalo Mtn. This ride goes on pretty much rain or shine throughout the winter. Tonight it was raining and about 55 degrees. Me and Bob Lamberson were the only ones to show up.

Go figure.

I like Bob. We have been riding and racing together for about 5 years. Bob is one of the few people I will follow through any singletrack at speed and not worry about a thing. I can always count on him for some hardcore riding.
We started climbing immediately and rode the 4 or so miles to the firetower gate mostly in the dark and rain. We had a little contest to see who would turn on their light first. It got pretty damn dark before Bob cracked (okay, it was a draw, I went for mine about the same time). Lights only served to illuminate the fog and were pretty much useless.
We hit the ATV trail that only a week ago was dry and fast to find it filled with water and nasty. (Don't worry, no trails were harmed as the trails at Buffalo are all weather and damned near indestructible). The fog only made it worse. Visibility was about 3 feet and we both got disoriented a few times and had to search for the trail (that we both know like the backs of our hands).
After the first section of ATV trail, we both decided it was to dangerous to continue with the fog the way it was so we hit the fireroad back to the cars.

Did we chicken out? No, I don't think so.

Where were you tonight?

Monday, October 22, 2007

MSG #2 and Rowdy Dog XXC - The Devil Made Me Do It.

Round #2 of the MSG Cross Series rolled into Johnson City's Winged Deer Park Saturday and it was also a stop in the Redline Cup O' Cross Tour which brought more people than normal out. That's a good thing.

After last Saturday's disaster, I made sure I had everything I'd need to race : bike, shoes, shorts, jersey....I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. After round one, I was sitting in 3rd place for the series and this being a double points race, I was hoping for a good result.

After warming up and getting a good look at the course which featured 2 sets of barriers, some really tricky off-cambered stuff and a 40 foot sand pit that had already claimed a few victims, I was excited.
I made sure I got to warm up this week.

My excitement soon faded somewhat when we lined up and I see Andy Applegate (a really fast pro) and a few fast roadie friends of mine - Mike Mefford and Michael Walters among the others including series leader Todd Braswell. This was going to be a tough one. Another interesting point was my son Nathan was starting his very first cross race just in front of me. Yep the singlespeeds run with the kids. Make of it what you will.

Go little buddy!!

I gave Nathan a few last minute instructions and saw him off. I was proud. Next it was my turn. I lined up in the front like I always do and waited for the word. It came and we were gone.

I am a big Duck in a little pond.

The first lap was really fast and it didn't take long for the order to be established. Going into lap 2, I was in about 4th place and over the first set of barriers, I trip like a big Dork and fall down. I kinda rolled back up on my feet and only lost one spot so it wasn't so bad. I eventually got passed by both Mikes and my buddy Alan Sparks by the midpoint in the race. My heartrate had been pegged since go and I was really suffering. I decided to try and limit my losses and gear up for a last lap attack on whoever was close to me.

I am really killing myself to dump my buddy. That's what friends are for.

Heading towards the end of the next to last lap, I roll up behind Alan and attack him on the climb that led to the finish line. I really buried myself to seal the deal lest he had any thoughts of a counter. It worked out and I finished 6th and moved into 2nd in points in the series OA.

Did that hurt?

Nathan finished 7th in the kids race and was talking about the next one on our way home. He's hooked I think. I was proud.

Off to change my Jabberwocky from Cross bike to Endurance bike and load up for Blacksburg and the second race of the weekend - the Rowdy Dog.

I only learned about this race about a week before from Vassago Team Manager - Misty (thanks Misty, I think) and teamate Kevin Clark. I thought it would be good for my training for the Treeshaker especially since I had not had a long off-road ride since the Fool's Gold race in August. I got the tires and gear changed on the bike and loaded up the Jeep for a 0330 wake-up call. I was on the road to pick up my buddy and partner in pain, Bob Lamberson and his son Wes by 0430. Wes was due back from a band competition about that time and I soon learned the bus he was riding broke down somewhere on the interstate. We went and found him at a truck stop along I-81. What luck.

Kevin, Me, Jeremy, Bob and the other guys.

In Blacksburg, we hooked up with Vassago teamates Jeremy Arnold and Kevin Clark and quickly got down to business. It was damn cold. Our start time was 0930 for the 50 mile (shortened to 40) XXC race where all other classes started at noon. My plan was simple - ride. Do the time and not get hurt. I kinda forgot that when we started and Kevin and Jeremy took off like a couple of convicts in a crackhouse raid. About 5 miles into the virtually all singletrack course, I was way down in my pain cave already. I stopped myself and reminded me of what I was doing there. It was tough but I had to stick to my plan. My body was having a hard time adjusting to the rigors of all-out, WFO for 30 minutes cross racing to chugging like the little engine that could for ever and ever endurance racing. My legs didn't know what to do for awhile.
The first hour or two were really tough for me.

There were plenty of rock gardens filled with baby head sized rocks all the way up to microwave sized rocks.

Metamorphic Rock: Formed under extremely high temperatures and pressure over millions of years. Exceptionally durable and hard.

Duck Flesh: Formed under moderate to low heat and pressure over about 9 months. Susceptible to cuts and bruises. Underlying bones break easily when subjected to rocks at medium to high velocity.

Yep given all that, I played it safe and went on a 5 hour training ride. The course was brutal. There was no place to relax it was either short, grunt climbs or fast sometimes technical rolling stuff that demanded your attention. I started to get bored about the time I started running into traffic from the later starting races. It kept me sane for the last hour of the race.

From a race standpoint, I didn't do so hot - 8th place (out of 9 or 10) but from a what I went up there for in the first place standpoint it was all aces. I rode well, never crashed and didn't get hurt.
My teamates Kevin and Jeremy finished 3rd and 4th respectively, Bob got 6th. I think we all had a great time.

I had fun.....................................

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mmmm, Pain.

Coming up this weekend is a pain double-header beginning on Saturday with round #2 of the MSG Series which is also a stop on the Redline Cup O' Cross tour. Action begins at 11:00 at Winged Deer Park in Johnson City.

The second part of this suffer fest is on Sunday in Blacksburg, Virginia and the Rowdy Dog XXC event. The 49 mile mtb race is going to bu just the ticket methinks to get me ready for the two upcoming 12 hour races, the 12 Hours of The Hill of Truth next weekend and the Treeshaker the week after.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Every Girl's Crazy About A Cross Dressed Man

Round one of the 2007 Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross series got underway yesterday at Steele's Creek Park in Bristol, Tennessee. I was looking forward to opening day since I have been training for weeks for this - yeah, right. I hadn't practiced a dismount since last year's MSG Series. I was anxious to race though. I hadn't raced since the Fool's Gold race back in August and I was getting really antsy.

I have had a rush of crappy luck recently, I almost broke my face at the 6 Hours of Warriors in Sept and a couple of weeks later, I dnf'd at Benge's Revenge due to a broken spoke. I was looking forward to a fresh start on the fall series that will have me racing for the next six weeks. My luck wasn't any better yesteday as I was getting ready to warm up and realized my shoes were at home. With the Pro's just starting, I had one hour to drive the 22 miles back to my house and get back in time for my race. It also meant I'd get to race with no warm-up whatsoever, effectively taking the pain I was going to feel and kicking it up a notch - BAM!

Don't you know I got behind every piece of slow moving vehicle you could imagine. Heavy equipment, cops, tow trucks, old people. About the only one that didn't get in front of me was someone on one of those little electric chairs. I was really pissed off when I got back to the park and pull in behind a guy at the self-serve entrance gate that only accepts dollar bills. He is out of his car, scratching his butt and looking puzzled. He asks me if I have change for a $5 ( I didn't) . I did have $2.00 so I jumped out, gave him a buck and wished him well ( I also wished he'd get the hell out of my way because if my math was right, I had about 10 minutes left before I was supposed to start).

Oh the drama.

I did get to the start on time. Actually I got to ride 3/4's of one lap for a warm-up (oooo big deal, might as well read a magazine instead but at least I got to look at the course). I was really in a bad mood but decided I was going to make the best of it. When the starter said "GO" I popped in behind the guy that pulled out front.

I didn't really think much of it then and I just rode my pace and followed him for the first 3/4 lap. He turned out to be a lot stronger than me (won Master35+ and got 2nd OA in CX3 last year, he should be a lot faster than me.) and I didn't want to try to match the pace he was setting. After 2 laps, I looked back and only one dude was behind me about 30 sec back I was guessing. This was weird. I felt like s**t and my legs filled with lactic acid really fast. I just knew everyone else was about to pass me. Coming around to the front stretch on lap 3 this is what I saw
Mr Sandbagger checked out and It was just me and the dude that was closing in on me, slowly but closing in steadily. I tried to ease up where I could because I was about to die. On the run-up, I hopped back on my bike and squished one of my boys. There's nothing like riding a bike with a heartrate at around 190 and mashing one of your nuts to really make you want to puke. While I was trying to recompose myself, my stalker caught me and passed me.

I figured he would and there really wasn't anything I could do about it at that point. I got it back together and now the hunted became the hunter, yeah right. I was keeping him in sight hoping he'd blow.
Going into the last lap, I felt like I could get him. I put my head down for one last hail mary attempt and got to within 20 feet of him. He saw me and put in a surge of his own. With about a mile to go, I should have waited longer before I moved but I tried to get him in a spot where I noticed I was faster. I had hoped I could blow past him and make him think I was stronger than I really was but it didn't work.

Ah, it was better than nothing. I got 3rd.

In the end, I was not surprised that the Masters/CX3 guy whipped our asses, I was surprised to see that we had almost a half a lap over 4th. There were some strong riders back in the field. I didn't expect that.

My Vassago Jabberwocky performed like a champ despite all the ribbing it took from comments about the little bitty cross tires I put on. It was just one more confirmation that I am on the best bike made. It takes whatever I ask it to and doesn't complain one bit. I could make a number of comments about that but maybe I shouldn't. That whole Lorena Bobbit thing still gives me the willies - so to speak.

Addendum: The 1.56 mile long course designed by Dwayne Letterman was one of the most fun cross courses I have ever ridden. It had plenty to keep you interested instead of just being a crit course on grass. Thank you Dwayne, Eric and everyone else involved in putting on this series.

You guys rock!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I Will PT You Until Your @$$hole Bleeds

The days are getting shorter and gone for this year are the times when I could get off work and knock off a quick 40-50 mile ride before dark. I must resort to trainer rides, night rides and the ubiquitous PT regimen.
I am fascinated by Rangers, Seals and others that do all this hardcore stuff using only bodyweight or good old-fashioned drills passed down from the 1950's gym classes. What's old is new.
I typically do anywhere from 2-15 sets of push-ups, bodyweight squats (think they are to easy? try doing 500 bodyweight squats. I guarantee your ass will be kicked), pull-ups, burpees and a whole list of odd looking exercises with an evil little device from the former Soviet Union.

The Kettlebell.

This 16kg (35lb) cast-iron beauty will take the place of a whole garage full of weights and whip you into tough guy shape pretty damn quick. I have been using them for about a year now doing cleans, clean and jerks, swings and the mack-daddy of kb excercises - the Snatch.

Imagine hanging this puppy between your legs, back and mid-section tensed (unless you like to screw up your back). Now in one motion, using your hips, not your arms, swing this thing straight up over your head. Here's where it gets interesting. You now have 16kg's of cast iron above your relatively soft head. In about a second, it will flip over your hand and hit the back of your wrist. You have to control it (unless you like broken wrists) using your legs as shocks.
Dropping it is out of the question for obvious reasons. Now do that for 200 reps on each side.

I can only do 100 - so far before I am at my max HR and I feel like I am going to puke and die.

They make those up to 106lbs. The 16kg one are what Russian girls use as birth control. I am a little Duck in a big pond.

Those Russians are hard.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Are You Hungry?

I know what you are after. Come tell Uncle Duckman. I know what you like. Pain. You like that?
I know you do. Uncle Duckman has looked forward to October for some time now. It is time for the harvest of pain to begin.
First comes the opening round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series on the 13th. Ole Dwayne and Eric are serving up double fist portions of hurt for you. The very next weekend is MSG number two and one week later is the 12 Hours of the Hill Of Truth. Just because October ends doesn't mean the pain has to stop. Noooooo, fear not and let your heart have no troubles. The very next week is the Treeshaker 12 Hour Race on Nov 3. Seven short, fall days later is MSG number 4.
So there you are my students of Pain. You like?

I knew you would.

Friday, October 5, 2007


If you or anyone you know is using this device, STOP! immediately and call the toll-free hotline for further instructions.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Stuff From Vassago and WTB

Hot from Vegas and Interbike, pics of the new Bandersnatch featuring a disc only rear triangle with replaceable derailleur hanger and clearance for 3.0 tires and beefier construction all around (not to mention a dead sexy color).

Still to come is the Chupacabra, Vassago's new singlespeed endurance race weapon (I can't wait!!!)

Three new treads from Wilderness Trail Bikes for 29'ers are the Stout, Vulpine and Prowler.

Stay tuned for more.......................................

Monday, September 24, 2007


Those were the words that rang through my head yesterday as I came rolling to a stop along a road in the middle of Southwest Virginia. Only moments before, I was tooling along in the peloton in the 6th Annual Benge's Revenge, 75 mile road race in the heart of SW Virginia's coal country.

My kind of race!

The course features some real treats in the final 10 miles with the 2 mile climb up Powell Valley Mtn and the final climb to the finish at Flag Rock with an average grade of 11% that spikes to 20% in some places.

My day however, ended 23 minutes into the race with a broken spoke on my rear wheel. No team cars, no neutral support, just me, a stray dog and a real bad attitude were all that remained as I watched everyone else disappear over the next rise. I was bummed. I had great legs and was looking for a top ten finish and some morale boost as I have been feeling pretty crappy lately. I tried

Oh well, stuff happens. I waited for a ride back to the start for about 20 minutes and then hung out until my buddy David finished, chatted with some friends and called it a day.

Maybe next year.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jedi RIde

With the shorter days of Fall, my weekday road rides get switched to my weeknight mountain bike rides. One of my favorite venues is Buffalo Mountain in the Cherokee National Forest. Last night The Great White Goat and me set out on a 1:45 ride 1:30 before dark. Yeah baby, perfect night for a Jedi ride.

We leave the parking area and begin to climb immediately. I don't ride here much in the Summer and I was impressed with the work that the USFS had done to the road. It was in pretty bad shape at the end of last Winter. Roughly 5 miles later, we are at the gate below the fire tower and ready to hit the blue trail (technically it is the orange trail but it was the blue trail before it was the orange trail and it will always be the blue trail to me). The blue trail is the only legal OHV trail in the Cherokee and it is heavily used by motorcycles and atv's. It gets regraded once a year or so and for a few weeks after, it is a blast to ride.

We got it in prime time.

We started down and had the sun just disappearing behind the ridge. We had about 45 minutes of daylight left and about and hour to ride still. We hammered! After the blue trail, we dump onto a connector that takes you on down to yet another sweet descent and back to the fire road. (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). Towards the end, it is getting hard to distinguish between rocks and leaves and you really have to use the force to avoid some wicked tank traps at the very bottom just before the fire road.

We made it back just as the last remaining light disappeared, thoroughly stoked to be alive and riding our bikes.

disclaimer: Mountain Biking is inherently dangerous. Mountain Biking in the dark without lights is not only dangerous but stupid as well. Do not attempt to do this on your own or even with someone else.
Leave the stupid stuff to the pro's.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Warriors Path 6 Hour Race/Cookout.

Saturday, I took part in the 6th Annual 6 Hours of Warriors Race/Cookout at Warriors Path State Park in Kingsport, Tennessee. This was a free event put on by the Northeast Tennessee Mountain Bike Association in the spirit of the founding fathers of mountain biking - to hang out, have friendly competition and eat some good grub at the end.

Master Chef, Larry Roberts

Try having this temptation at a race. This spread was in the start/finish area. Pure torture for those trying to race.

The day's event actually got started the day before with steady rain all day long. One thing about Warriors, the trails are quite durable and weather resistant but damn evil when wet. The race start of 8:00 meant the first few laps would be tough.

After a few words from the Minister of Pain (aka ME) to the effect of "Um.. y'all be careful, the trails are wet and someone might get hurt if you get lazy", the race began.

Me and Vassago teamate Chris Davis before the start.

Uh, maybe I should have listened to my pre-race speech. My plan was to ride about 2 or 3 laps and then hang out as people arrived for the cookout. Well about 50 yds into the singletrack, my front wheel slid off of a root and I hooked a tree with my bars and went down hard. I got up and my bars were crooked and had to be straightened.

Everyone passed me.

Something inside me clicked and I went from casual to WFO race mode just like that. I got back on my bike and went through the first trail - Darwin's Revenge, like a man possessed. By the time I got into the first somewhat downhill section of Boneyard (see a trend with the trail names?), I had made my way to mid-pack. I didn't really know what the hell I was doing, I was riding by instinct and stupid - a bad combination.
In Boneyard, there's three really big roots that you can usually manual BMX style over and never think twice. I came up on them and a buddy of mine at the same time on Saturday. He bobbled a little and I had nowhere to go. But down.
I crashed harder than I have crashed in recent memory. I hit the ground face first and everything went black for a moment.
I remember thinking "Damn. That hurt and how can I go all over the Southeast in all these races all year and never crash once and come to a charity event in my back yard and yard sale?"
As I rolled over, I could taste that metallic taste of blood and I saw it dripping all over the ground. I thought I broke my nose. I just sat there for a minute and finally took my waterbottle and washed off my face.

Then I got back on my bike and rode on. Like what else was I supposed to do?

I took a shortcut back to my truck and cleaned up and assessed the damage.
One cut on each leg, a badly busted nose (my face still hurts), a cracked Giro helmet and a hurt ego.

I needed a few of these.

I mean, I know the trails at WPSP better than any trail on the planet, how could this happen?

Ah, suck it up buttercup and go on. My head hurt for the rest of the day but I still managed to place 3rd in the High Noon Smackdown - a 1 mile uphill/downhill TT and later on in the afternoon, I went back out with Bob Lamberson, one of my best friends, and we rode a lap in a two-man paceline that was nearly perfect. Bob is one of about 3 people on Earth that I trust riding tight singletrack at speed three feet from his back wheel.

My Vassago teamate Chris, outlasted all the others and resisted the draw of the smell of hamburgers and won the OA in the 6 Hour Race. I think everyone had some sort of injury, if not physical, mental anguish from the beating that Warriors can dole out. Another close friend of mine, Jay Hayes, probably fared the worst with a deep cut on his knee (and a matching cracked patella) and a broken wrist.

It's a good thing this was for fun. If it was serious someone could have died.

Can't wait until next year.

Thursday, September 13, 2007