Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I rode my SSRB in fixed mode on Monday and again last night and I now know that I have alot of work to do before I can say I have a good spin. The first ride was only about 7 miles and there wasn't many big hills in it. Last night's ride was around 20 though, and it had several big hills (1-2 minutes long) and was generally much more rolling. I have learned a few things in my two ride career riding a fixed gear:
You only forget that you can't coast once.
You only forget to not turn to sharp once.
Starting is harder than stopping.
Going downhill is harder than going up.
Standing to stretch is hard and must be planned.
Trackstands are much easier to do.
Bunnyhopping curbs, bridge joints or anything else is damn near impossible.
I have muscles in my legs I never knew were there ( I know now only because they @#%# hurt).
As you get tired, you tend to forget points 1,2, and 5. Justice is swift.
Any small inconsistency in your pedal stroke is magnified a dozen times over for every mile per hour you ride.
Going downhill at 27 mph will teach you to relax lest you look stupid and beat yourself silly with your kneecaps.
There is no resting.
There will be more to learn I am sure as I ride this thing more and more and I would think the awkwardness I feel now will go away. I rode for a little more than an hour last night and I felt like I rode twice that much after I was done. For training, especially winter training, I think this will be the ticket.
I can't imagine (at least right now) how people ride fixed off road.
Monday, April 28, 2008
I am pretty much over the Strep that terrorized me before and during the Cohutta. On my ride Saturday, my legs felt a little dead at first but after warming up, I felt fine. I only had 2 hours to ride so I did what I could (I was 15 minutes late - sorry honey). I was banking on Sunday's ride - and it poured rain all day. I am sorry. I could not make myself ride in the rain one more time.
So I did some things that have been put off for some time.
Things like new gear cables and bar tape on my road bike.
Getting all my riding gear together including socks (why do socks disappear? I have about a dozen single socks.)
Changing the crank on my SS road bike from the 170mm one it had to a 175mm one.
Clean and lube 4 bikes.
Oh and watch it rain while I rode my rollers for a bit.
The truth is I have no normal schedule. Everything is subject to change at most any moment - at least that's the way it is for now. I am trying hard to get myself out of this funky mood I have been in since my mom's been down. It is very hard to just go on and be who I am. I haven't been very funny lately. Not much to laugh about.
But it could be worse. Have a look at this clip:
That'll leave a mark.
Looks like I am riding in the rain tonight. It's all good. I think I'll do it on my fixed gear.
Friday, April 25, 2008
I am still stinging a little from having to quit the Cohutta. I have only quit 2 races in my life and the Cohutta was one of them. To me quitting is a bad thing and I tend to beat myself up really bad. It's a psychological defect I think but it's who I am. I don't really think it matters to anyone that I quit the Cohutta and I probably could have dug a little deeper and made the last 18 miles but I had already dug pretty damn deep for the 20 previous miles and I just cracked.
I did a road ride last night and my legs still feel a little poor but still I didn't get dropped by the roadies until the final 2 mile climb up Buffalo Mtn where we got spread out a little. I still held my own though.
I really like taking my singlespeed to road rides. I get a feeling some of the roadies don't quite know what to make of it. It was good to get out there and work out some negative energy that's been brewing for awhile.
My mom is back in the hospital after being out in a rehab facility for only one week. She had another stroke and although she's not in life threatening danger, she doesn't know what planet she's on. If I think about it I get really depressed and that's just not good for me. It is out of my hands and there's really nothing I can do except what I am already doing.
The 12 Hours of Tsali is in 3 weeks so I'll be riding pretty hard this week and part of next then backing off a bit. Tsali is a race I planned to do well in.
As always, we'll see how it goes.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
My legs felt good and I think I am pretty much over the crap from last week. Now I can get back to business and focus on the "Three Weeks of De Paain" coming up in May.
Three Weeks of De Paain (a play on the Belgian Classic Three Days of De Panne) consists of the 12 Hours of Tsali on May 17, the Burn 24 on the 24-25th, and the Mohican 100 on the 31st. That's gonna be about 46 hours and around 350 miles of racing in three consecutive weeks. I figure it's either gonna kill me or not. Should be interesting.
Tonight it's back to regular training. I am taking my SSRB out and hooking up with the Thursday road ride that meets at ETSU. I'll probably do some singletrack over the weekend.
Good luck to teamates Eddie and Namrita O'Dea who both are competing in the 24 Hours of Vail Lake this weekend in California.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I drove to Ocoee, Tn where I met Bob Lamberson and his family and Brad Reed. We all jammed into a room at the Ocoee Whitewater Inn. Six people, a bunch of bikes and stuff. Kinda reminded me of college days and beach trips. I threw my sleeping bag in a corner and crawled in. The sleep I got was good, there just wasn't much of it. I woke at 4:45 to the sound of rain. Yep it was pouring and according to the Weather Channel there was a 20% chance that it wouldn't rain all day.
God why didn't I just go back to sleep then.
Two hours later, I was on the starting line at the Ocoee Whitewater Center with 200ish others including Eatough, Landis, Harlan Price, Shey Linder, Ernesto Marenchin and a bunch of other fast guys that would drive the pace up from the get-go. I also saw a bunch of guys I know from the Carolinas like Tomato, Stephen, Dicky, and several others that I know of but haven't really met. I was next to my buddy Bob Lamberson and his wife Anet who was doing her first ever hundie, just behind her was Michael Ritter.
At 7:00, after a few (thousand) words from Bruce Dickman we were off. The first 2 miles or so were on a slight climb up the pavement to some really nice singletrack. At about 7:01, I knew I was in trouble. I had nothing in my legs. I tried to tell myself it was from not being warmed up and such a hard pace. Into the singletrack I got in a good group and we had a great pace and nobody messed up despite the mud (the rain had stopped for the moment - we were in a 20% period). It was fast and flowed really well and for awhile, I had fun and foolishly thought the day may not be so bad after all.
The singletrack lead us back to the Ocoee Whitewater Center where I had my 15 minutes (more like seconds) of fame. We were going along the river on a really tame path that was fast and flowed well. All of a sudden we were in this rock and root garden from hell. It was like being in West Virginia. People were sliding and bouncing all over, busting tubes like there was no tomorrow. I passed five people, bounced off the sixth one (neither one of us went down) and it was over. The dude on the FS bike I bounced off of was impressed that I was on a rigid bike.
Through the whitewater center and on to a really tough root-laden singletrack climb where I saw Michael for a bit (Bob was long gone and I would never see him). Michael let me by because he rides singlespeeds also and knows how hard it is to climb with geared bikes on climbs like this. I got into a jam a bit later and simply could not go as slow as those spinning away in their grannies. I spun out trying to get over a root step. Just as I did, a smart-ass passed me and announced "Oh I love my gears". Little did he know that Karma can be a bitch and his Karma bit him about 10 miles later when I passed him and his broken chain. I just kept my mouth shut and spun my lovable little dependable gear right on by.
The next thing up was about 70 miles of mind-numbingly boring forest service road that went around the perimeter of the Big Frog Wilderness. It was basically up, down, up, down, up all day long. By then, somewhere around 40 miles or so, I was in Georgia and feeling so-so. I kept my eye on my average speed hoping to keep it above 10 mph thus ensuring I'd finish in under 10 hours. At the moment it was 11.4. I felt good but my good feelings were something I'd soon get over.
The Road to Hell is all Gravel
The beginning of the end for me came at about 55 miles. I began to feel sick. I had been dilligent in making sure I was getting enough fluids and calories but this was different. I was getting my fever back and anything I put near my mouth made me gag and dry heave. I was somewhere in the Chattahooche National Forest and my options were few. I was slowing down and I began to daydream.
cue dream sequence music......................
Phil Ligget: Oh have a look at the veteran Vassago rider. He's not looking to keen.
Paul Sherwin: You are right Phil. That looks to be Brian Archer and he is slowing down and it looks like he may be starting to crack.
Phil: Goodness gracious me, he takes a drink from his bidon and it looks Paul, as though he has thrown up.
Paul: This surely is the end of the line for Brian. He'll be looking for the team car - except there is no team car.
Phil: He's taken another drink from his bidon and spit it out. He's had another drink and he's back on the move. Paul I don't think he even missed a pedal stroke.
Paul: I believe Duckman - as he is called, is going to ride himself right back into this bike race.
Phil: He may not be one of the heads of state in this race but you must give him credit for being a crusty veteran.....................................
Huh....Where am I?
Oh yeah. I knew that the end was coming. I couldn't eat and it was only a matter of time before I ran completely out of gas and fell over on the side of the road. I only hoped that that point would be 100 miles and 10 feet into this race. But it wasn't. That point came at 82 miles and aid station #5. I stopped. I had a fever of about 100 and was actually thinking of death as a viable solution towards feeling better. I took some Tylenol and hopped onto the SAG bus and went to sleep. I would have to wait for about an hour to get a ride out. It didn't matter. I felt like hell.
On top of that, I had to deal with quitting. Have you ever seen the Tour De France and when someone quits they climb into the Broom Wagon crying? I can identify with that feeling. The feeling of letdown is huge. You work so long and hard for something and fail after putting so much effort into it. It sucks.
I got over it though. I quit something I should have never started in the first place so why should I feel bad. I made it 82 miles- the last 15 puking all over the place. I had nothing to be ashamed of.
Bob, Anet and Michael all finished well. This was Anet's first. We are all proud of her. Brad Reed finished strong in the 87. ( that's the 65 plus a wrong turn).
My bike was perfect. I cannot get over how well the new Vassago Optimus rides. I did the whole day with no mechanical issues whatsoever and at a lot of times, the roads and trails seemed to just disappear under me. To say I love this bike would be an understatement.
So now for me I will get healthy and look forward to the Triple Header of Pain coming up in about a month.
As for the Cohutta.......
I'll be back!
Friday, April 18, 2008
The good thing is you don't really need to take much. A bike, clothes, food um..... that's about all. Since I drive around in a rolling closet, most of that stuff was in my truck already.
I feel like crap. Can't wait to see what tomorrow is going to be like.
On the upside, the forecast is for a small chance of rain so I know I will get wet tomorrow and it's not going to be to hot, only 60ish, so I will probably freeze too. It's all good though. It looks like I am not the only one that will suffer tomorrow and I am sure there will be others.
We get to have bags of stuff we specify dropped at various checkpoints. I think I'll have two.
In the "If things are going good bag" I'll have Heed, Hammer Gel and Perpetuem and maybe a dry pair of socks and gloves.
In the "Screw it" bag, there will be a pack of powdered donuts, beef jerky and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Maybe a magazine to read while I wait for a ride back to the start.
Either way, I'll be back in a couple of days with a story to tell.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I do not need this right now.
At any rate, the show must go on. I will get stuff ready tonight for my trip tomorrow then grab the puppy, a blanket, some good drugs, the tv remote and hit the couch in the fetal position and hope for the best.
We'll see how it goes.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I started on a Trek (don't remember the model) road bike back in 1985, the year I graduated high school. Within 5 years, I was racing and by 1997, I was doing pretty well as a Cat 4 and was working my way towards Cat 3. I had a mountain bike and it got used sparingly. A few things happened that made my path turn towards the wild. First, I got married. Getting married in and of itself isn't a bad thing but when your partner doesn't quite get that when you say you ride bikes for fun, you mean you ride your bike in a year more than some people drive their cars. It took a while but we got that worked out and came to an understanding.
The second and most profound change came in the early Spring of 2000 when my good friend and bro Rob Horn invited me to be on a team for the 24 Hours of Snowshoe. It seemed like the most insane thing I could think of but still I was interested. I went to Snowshoe that June and had my bloody ass handed to me in a burlap sack. I had fitness but my technical skills sucked.
Instead of being discouraged like many that never returned to Snowshoe, I became determined and 5 years at the University of Snowshoe made me a mountain biker.
I rode my road bike less and less and at one point, 2003 I think, I didn't even own a road bike. I got hooked on endurance races and to date, I have done about thirty 12 and 24 hour races both on teams and in the past couple of years, I have gone to the solo side. This year is the first year for me doing the hundies and I think I'll like them since they are not laps around the same 8 or 9 mile loop (that gets boring) and they are shorter than a 12 or 24 hour event and everyone is on the same page (at lap races you constantly have these fresh, rested team riders blowing past you with regularity. I hate that). 12 hour races aren't to bad but 24 hour solo races are really hard. I guess that's why I only have one of them on my schedule.
I still ride my road bike, in fact I do about 80% of my training on the road. I still love mixing it up with the local roadies in training races (they do a race every Tuesday night here during the Summer that I absolutely love) and alot of my friends are roadies.
Inside me however, is a dirt and mud covered heart.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Me and stalwart training/riding/and racing buddies Michael Ritter and Bob Lamberson rode the McQueen's Gap loop on Holston Mtn. I was not only looking forward to this ride to test my Optimus but to also gauge my fitness since me and Bob did this same loop in February and it really hurt me.
Sign says no dumping. Pissing is ok (be careful what you do around Duckman with a camera)
McQueens Gap is about 25 miles of all forest service road with a small bit of pavement and some potentially hazardous doubletrack with babyheads covered by leaves. It also has a couple of really nice climbs, the biggest being about 5 miles long.
Nice climbing, just steep enough to push you a little
By the end of the ride, I was really pleased with how I felt. We took it easy and still did the loop faster than we did in February and I never felt like I was really pushing it. Plus my gearing is 32X19 right now where it was 32X20 in Feb when I was there. It was just another stamp of approval for me that my training has been all that it could be.
Now how about the bike?
I was very impressed with the ride and the handling of my Optimus. The Vassago ti frame and White Bros carbon fork gave a really nice ride. A lot of the high frequency bumps that you'd normally feel were either gone or deadened to the point that they didn't matter much. I will admit it was a bit weird looking down at the fork and seeing it flex but I am told and it is backed up by lots of riders using these forks that they are the real deal and they hold up to the kind of riding I will be doing. Corners were inspiring as the wheels seemed to stick wherever I put them. I can only imagine what singletrack will be like at this point but I believe I will be pleased.
Climbing with a sub-20 pound bike is a real treat. It is stiff where it needs to be and compliant where it should be and this all adds up to a great riding, great handling bike. I can't wait to see how it feels after 100 miles next Saturday.
Friday, April 11, 2008
It started December 1st with a winters long every-other-day session on rollers @ a heartrate of less than 140. Twice weekly night rides pretty much regardless of the weather and a long ride of at least 2 to 6 hours every two weeks.
I started riding in the mountains on my road bike in February and by March 1st, I had 1300 miles of road/mountain/rollers combined in my legs. I rode mountains 3-6 hours every weekend for 5 weeks in Feb/March.
I experimented with different foods and drinks until I came up with a combination that I believe will serve me well.
I am as fit as I ever have been for this time of the year still, I worry about endurance. Did I do enough?
All I can do now is rest and get ready to race.
It has been fun. Since I decided to get a little more serious about racing this year and a little more focused, I have enjoyed pushing myself. Riding in the rain at 38 degrees or in the dark and snow at 18 degrees has made me tougher than I was before. I know that I can endure alot of discomfort and it might suck for awhile but it's not going to kill me.
I am in my taper/rest period before Cohutta. My plan for the week looks something like this:
Tomorrow - 4 hours fireroad easy pace w/some climbing. I need this ride because I haven't ridden my Optimus yet and I have new shoes that I haven't used.
Sunday - 45 minutes spin
Monday - 90 minutes tempo
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - 90 minutes spin
Thursday - off/pack
Friday - off/travel
Saturday - Race.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I had the day off yesterday to take my little sister (well she's 27 but she'll always be my little sister) to the airport. She had to fly back to California to find a job for the summer since her winter gig is almost up. She hated to go since mom is still not out of the woods yet but she didn't have much choice.
Speaking of mom, she is out of ICU and has most of the crap that she was hooked up to gone. She is getting stronger by the day and really improving nicely. She has most of her memory intact but her coordination and some of her motor skills are a little off. Still not bad for someone who just a week ago wasn't supposed to live.
A big thank you to all of you who have called, emailed, prayed and or otherwise supported us during this time. It means alot.
The pain part I was referring to is I took some time yesterday afternoon to catch up on some work around the house. One of the things I did was change the gearing on my road bike from 42X16 to 43X16. I did this in hopes of helping me a little on the flats and rolling hills without killing me to much on the big climbs. On a singlespeed there is no perfect gear for every situation, that's part of the game but, you can get one that works most of the time.
I took it out for a ride and threw in some hills to test it out. On the flats, my speed has gone from 21-23 mph to 25-26 mph at about 120rpm. Not great but a definite improvement.
On the climbs, it is a bit tougher but not impossible. one of the hills I went up is at Miller Perry School. It is about 1/2 mile long and steep enough to hurt you. It wasn't that much harder than normal. Besides, it's gotta make me stronger right?
So it's all good.
Having said that, I may switch it back before I go into the big mountains again. We'll see.
I am planning on a long ride off-road this weekend to shakedown my Optimus before the Cohutta 100 next week.
Monday, April 7, 2008
By now they have seen this repeated enough that they no longer ask questions. They have accepted that the man living next door isn't quite right.
At least I am not a ax-murderer. I am sure they appreciate that.
I tried to not think about my mom and other stuff that really causes me alot of stress right now. I just tried to focus on the rain, the sound of tires on wet pavement, the smells of spring. I tried to think back to how much I have ridden in the damn rain since Jan 1. I would venture to guess that at least 40% of my training since Jan 1 has been in the rain for at least part, if not all of the time. Maybe it's my lot in life. Maybe it's somehow predestined because I have rubber ducks all over the place. Ducks like it wet and they don't seem to care about the cold either. I guess if I take that thinking further, it's a good thing I am not "Penguinman" or "Polar Bearman". Maybe I should have adopted something that exists in mainly warm, dry climates like "Iguanaman"
"Prarie Dogman"? Nah, might be misconstrued into just shithead.
Hmm. Not very appealing. How about "Scorpionman"?
Nah, to umm.........to somethingish.
Horny Toadman? Hmm.............................. My riding might suffer for other reasons.
Every time I ride my SSRB I am reinforced in my decision to get one. It is perfect for the sloppy crap I ride in. There's nothing to hurt on it. It's like a Sherman Tank.
With all the short, steep hills around my house, it's gotta be good for my training.
As I rolled back onto my street a couple of hours later, my neighbor drove up next to me and rolled down the window and asked if I had a good ride.
With rain dripping off my nose, I replied;
Yeah, I did.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
It is finished (except for Ergon grips and a Cateye computer). My 08 Vassago Optimus built up very nicely.
Component highlights are :
Formula Oro Puro Brakes
Easton Monkeylite XC Bars
Middleburn Crank (32 T)
Crank Bros Bottom Bracket
White Bros Carbon Fork
Chris King Headset
Thomson Seatpost and Stem
WTB Saddle and Tires
Shimano 959 Pedals
DT 240S hubs laced to Stans 355 rims
Endless Cycles Kickass Cogs (17,18,19, or 20 tooth. Depends on course)
I haven't got to ride it yet so ride impressions will have to wait.
To make matters significantly worse, Friday she started coming out of the heavy sedation they had her on initially. She was very agitated and we found out that on Tuesday when they did the MRI, someone held her down to get her in the @#@%* machine. My mom is EXTREMELY claustrophobic and so was noted on her records. That freaked her out and when she came around on Friday, she wanted the hell out of there. She fell trying to get up to go to the bathroom and before my dad could catch her, they both were down. She hit her head and sustained a subdural hematoma. They began to watch that closely, giving her 3 more CT scans over the weekend. Sunday she seemed to be improving alot.
Monday she had trouble with her speech again and was very weak. At about 9:00am I talked to my dad and sister about her condition and I went over to the hospital after work (5:30). It had taken all @%*^^$& day and my sister going to hospital administration to get someone to be a little concerned with what was happening. At 5:30, we finally got a neurosurgeon in to examine her and he ordered another CT scan. By 10:00 Monday night they were prepping her for emergency surgery to cut the top of her head off and drain the fluid from her brain. At about 4:00am Tuesday, the neurosurgeon (who was visibly shaken) came to us and told us it was much worse than the scan showed and he couldn't stop her from bleeding because her blood wasn't clotting properly.
He also told us that he didn't think she would live.
They rolled her out of surgery and into ICU with the top of her head still off (I wish this was a bad dream but it isn't), they put the section of her skull they removed inside her abdomen for safe keeping in case they needed to put it back later. (I promise I am not making anything up.) We left the hospital awhile to .... I don't know.
By the time I got back to the hospital at 9:00, she was still alive and by 3:00pm yesterday, she was stable enough and had improved enough to go back to surgery to finish it.
We don't know at this point if she is going to live or not and if she does live who is she going to be I guess only God knows that answer.
There's other questions we are going to get answers for. Like how do you get from showing signs of improving on day to showing significant signs of neurological issues (weakness and uncoordination on only one side of the body - the left side, the side opposite of the side where she hit her head)the next to emergency surgery. The surgeon admitted to us that someone misread some of her scans and that it shouldn't have gotten to the point it did. The Hospital will have some serious questions to answer at some point.
For now though, we are waiting to see what happens next. The other stuff can wait.