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.