Thursday, May 29, 2008
This will be the third 100 miler in as many weeks for me and I am feeling the cumlative effects of the past two weeks. On one of my weekly road rides last night, my legs were kinda tired still but I did feel better towards the end of the ride. I have literally been living out of a bag for the last three weekends and as far as the bike goes, I have done nothing to it except wash the dirt off and lube the chain.
I am going to do something totally different this weekend. Since NUE series points are no longer something I am gunning for, I am totally stress free and not worried about anything. I am going to go without the pressure I normally put on myself and just ride as fast as I can. I am not even going to take any food. I am taking a bike, riding clothes and two empty water bottles. I will live totally off of local fare for the weekend.
This should be interesting.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Vassago Cycles has donated a frame that will be raffled between now and October 11th, 2008 at the Dirty Spokes 12/6 Hour Mountain Bike Race - Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers, Ga (ALL proceeds from the raffle go to the Taylor Brooks Foundation). Raffle tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased through the Dirty Spokes web site.
We urge you to read the story of mountain bike racer Jeff Brooks and his wife. their daughter lost her fight against cancer on April 1, 2008.
We wish the Brooks family all the best and our thoughts are with you.
You storm out of the transition area like your ass is on fire and your hair is catching and you are hell-bent on total domination. Ahead is a lone figure pushing a massive gear and going nowhere fast. With his head hung low and a thousand yard stare, the solo guy moves like a robot.
Sure we are slow and we smell bad. We are dirty and have trouble hearing you over the music, the oh so sweet and sanity preserving music coming from our Ipods. We irritate you because we are in your way. You huff and puff and you try to push around in places where you can't pass because you can't bear to wait for ten feet to pass and the trail opens up. Keep in mind for every lap you do, we do 4 and we are more than happy to get out of your way because we'd rather be left alone to suffer in slow, stinky silence than be bothered by someone reeking of Axe.
So have respect for the solo guy Mr Team Racer for one day it may be you in someone's way.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Overnight a front came through with rain and cooler temps but by race time the weather was primo. Jeremy got there Saturday morning and just a little while later, Misty from Vassago made it after having a game of hokey pokey with airport security.
There was a lot of people there and that's always a good thing. With 50ish solo riders and all the teams, the first lap was sure to be a jam no matter how many measures were taken to spread it out before we hit the singletrack.
The LeMans start actually wasn't that bad and put me on the trail in pretty much mid-pack which meant HEAVY traffic. In several spots, I found myself doing trackstands while I waited for the trail to clear (and while team-racer types were going all apeshit and running through the woods). I was gonna be there all day and night, I had no reason to get excited. Climbing on a singlespeed in traffic is a real bitch. Basically it is like doing a trackstand and pedaling every other second. I had a plan though and I wasn't going to waste any energy by passing people I didn't need to pass or racing with people I had no business racing with. I stuck to my plan and that made me happy. Even with all that, my first lap was 44 minutes and my target was 1 hour. I didn't feel like I rode to hard so all was good.
By 4:30, I had ridden 5 laps more or less non-stop so I took a break and had some food and a Coke. Up until that point, me, Jeremy, David and Misty were like ships in the night - we hardly saw each other. Misty announced she was going to get dinner in a while so I did a couple more laps and had PIZZA. Mmmmmm. After all day of drinking some energy concoction that tastes like boiled ass (at least what I would imagine boiled ass tastes like), having pizza was like eating at a five star restaurant. It was a treat.
(Edit: Eddie and Namrita bought the pizzas and Misty got the cheeseburgers and fries (that I totally forgot about, they were great!) Thanks Eddie and Nam and Misty too!!)
The one thing about the Burn course is that it is full of roots, holes ups and downs. You never really get much chance to rest except for a couple of doubletrack sections that are really short. If you choose to ride only rigid bikes, you can expect to get pounded at the Burn. It was gonna be dark soon and I knew I was going to hit a wall so I tried everything I could think of to save energy which included walking some of the steepest climbs that really take a lot of energy and searching out the smoothest lines possible.
Speaking of climbs and the course. The Brushy Mountain Cyclist Club really did a great job with the Dark Mountain Trail that the race is run on. They had some new construction that added about a mile or so to the course and it was obvious that they really put alot of time in to get the course ready.
It got cold quickly when the sun went down and I got a chill while I ate pizza. Getting back on the bike cold and wet was really hard and I decided the best way to stay warm was to ride all night. That's worked fine until about 1:45 and I had to stop. I had long since lost my motivation to ride and I forced myself to keep going (this is where the 12 vs 24 hour race thing gets really hard. My body expects to stop after 12 hours and when I don't, things get bitchy). I crawled into my sleeping bag and shivered myself to sleep. Night time is a horrible time at a 24 hour race. You have no way to gauge how you are doing. You feel like shit, everyone is passing you like you are going the other way, it's dark and you feel isolated. The next thing you know the aliens show up and fit you with an anal probe.
It's no wonder people hate the night. It can be scary.
Sunrise brought warmth and a renewed spirit. It is amazing what a couple of hours of crappy sleep and cold pizza with coffee will do for you. It seems that over half the solo field had the same issues I had because I only lost one position during my 5 hour sabbatical. I rode 3 laps back to back and my legs made a surprise appearance for a while and I was climbing everything again. At about 10:30, half way through my 14th lap, I decided my 15th lap would be my last.
Doing a 16th would only move me from 25th to 23rd and that wasn't worth the suffering at that point. On the final climb, I was surprised to come up on a very slow riding Mark Hendershot ( don't know why he was riding slow, he was only on his 28th lap). It was odd but refeshing to see that everyone suffers in these races. I passed him at the top of the climb and he didn't look so good but he was still turning over the pedals like a machine. Mark won last year and this year he would finish second to a kid that did an impressive 30 laps. I rolled through the transition area and straight on out for my 15th lap with only a fresh bottle of water and a mouthful of Twizzlers.
I rolled back in at about 11:40 and called it a day. I didn't quite do what I came to do but I did finish 25th with 15 laps which was better than last year. I rode a total of 113 miles and roughly (I am guessing) 15,000 feet of climbing (that's a pretty big deal until you realize the guy that won rode 226 miles and about 30,000 feet of climbing!!!) and I never crashed or had any mechanical failures. I also learned a lot that will help me in future races.
Oh and I had fun.
It was great to hang out with Misty, Jeremy, David, Eddie and Namrita. The weather was perfect and the race that Eddie, Namrita and all the volunteers put on was great. Dollar for dollar I don't think you'll find a better 24 hour event period.
I can't wait for next year.
A big thanks to Nancy for the pre-race food prep, to Misty, Eddie and Namrita for the Cheesburgers, Pizza and Coffee, to my teammates Jeremy and David - it was great to hang out with you guys, and to Vassago Cycles, as the team continues to grow, we are proving that big wheels do keep on rolling and the big wheels to be on have a Vassago head badge attached to them.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The 2008 Burn 24 has come and went. I was there along with Vassago teammates Jeremy, David and Vassago Team Manager Misty.
I am waaay to tired to write much now so here's some quick stats:
Mens Solo entries (based on number socred) - 48
Vassago team results - Brian 25th, David 35th (riding a fixed gear Jabber!!), Jeremy 38th.
Even though my other teammates Eddie and Nam didn't race, they still won because they along with all the volunteers put on a damn good race.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
That is it's time for the Burn 24 coming up this weekend at Dark Mountain Trails in North Wilkesboro. Vassago will be there with me, Jeremy Arnold and David Nice all racing solo and our Team Manager - Misty is coming down from MD to throw water bottles at us as we ride by (of course I am kidding). Teammates Eddie and Namrita O'Dea are the promoters and there's a ton more sponsors, prizes, schwag and fun stuff lined up for the weekend.
This will be my second 24 solo race and I hope to improve on my 28th place finish of a year ago. These races are probably the hardest ones I do due to the length and the fact that I just don't have the time to train as much as I should to be really competitive in them. I am not going to let that stop me though. I have everything packed and ready to leave tomorrow and I intend to have a go at it. My goal is a top ten finish.
We'll see how it goes.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
When I showed up at the 12 Hours of Tsali feeling kinda good, I tried not to think to much about it or anything else so as not to cast any bad mojo on the weekend. I got 5th there last year and this year I was hoping for better things.
Nancy preparing about 6 hours worth of fuel.
Ready for Battle
Some of my NTMBA homies (Brandon, Anet, Bob and me)
Vassago Teammate Chris Davis.
At 11:00 we lined up for the lovely Le Mans start - 1/4 mile run uphill to where our bikes awaited us. It is no secret I hate running so I enriched all that were around me with my pre-LeMans start bitching and complaining. Soon enough though, it was over and we were riding. The first two laps were fast and I climbed pretty much everything including some stuff I should have walked (in the context of a 12 hour race, just because you can climb something doesn't mean you always should) and spent a fair amount of time riding with Chris. A funny thing happened on lap 2 when my contact popped out of my eye on a rocky descent and while I was trying to get it back in Chris rolled up behind me with a stick wedged in his cassette. Here was both Vassago team riders having issues in the middle of the trail. We both got it sorted out and on we went.
I was kinda worried about my choice of tires - a WTB Weirwolf front and a WTB Vulpine rear, when the rain came on Friday. The Weirwolf is minimally treaded and the Vulpine is almost a semi-slick. Not much for muddy traction but they roll really good on dry hardpack. Luckily I had enough karma built up that the places that were still wet didn't give me a problem. Karma being what it is however, kinda left me somewhere between my 3rd and 4th laps. Up until that point, my buddy Bob Lamberson was leading, a kid from Florida (also on a Vassago Optimus) was in second and I was in third. We were all on the same lap and only a few minutes apart. First I lost a screw out of one of my cleats. Luckily Chris had one and got that problem solved but then I started feeling not so good.
I had been coming in and going back out with only a bottle change. I would empty one bottle per lap and have a couple of shots of gel per lap. I started to slow down and was feeling a little sick. I stopped climbing everything and began to walk some of the really steep stuff but that wasn't enough. At the end of lap 4 I ate a PB&J sandwich and had a Coke. That made me feel a little better but still not great. I did one more lap and then stopped for awhile and ate some Spaghetti. I have been trying to use mainly a liquid diet and in training it has worked ok but in racing it isn't doing so hot. I was sick as a dog and had almost nothing in my legs.
While I sat there, I saw that Bob and the guy from Fla were about to pass me and put a lap on me. There wasn't much I could do about it. Then Chris came in and told me that he passed the guy in 4th place (in singlespeed solo) and he was coming in pretty soon. This got my attention when I realized I pissed away the 40 minute buffer I had over 4th and just then he came in so that made us even at that point. I got up and left real quick and instructed my support crew to keep an eye on him. The spaghetti actually helped me and for the next few laps, I felt good, er, well I felt better anyway. I came in after my 7th lap and got the report. The guy in 4th came in 20 minutes behind me after 6 laps and spent about 10 minutes in his pit before going out. Chris told me earlier that he didn't look so good on the trail so I felt a little more confident. Still, there was time he could use to make up ground. I wasn't going to catch 1st and 2nd unless catastrophe
struck so I set out on my 8th lap to seal the deal on 3rd place.
I was feeling much better then and It was dark. I always ride good in the dark. My Ipod served me up some smoking music to keep me motivated and also some lighter stuff to keep me chilled on the climbs. It would give me something from Dave Matthews or Coldplay to climb to and then some Metallica, Godsmack or AC/DC to descend. It was perfect. At the top of the final climb (well the final big climb), Queen's Fat Bottom Girls starts playing and I knew this was going to be special. (Fat Bottom Girls for me dates back to Dr Skip's Medicine Show days. It's a song that brings back memories).
I ripped the next mile and half rolling section like there was no tomorrow. After Fat Bottom Girls came Welcome to the Jungle, then Bodies, Stupify by Disturbed and finally Thunderstruck by AC/DC. At the end of the fast flowy part, you have a half mile climb to the finish and I did that to the tune of Aerosmith's Train Kept Rollin' (another DSMS theme song). I felt great. Little did I know that that was my fastest lap of the day and I now had about an hour over 4th place.
I was done.
Yeah, I was happy - and damned tired.
Not too tired to drink a beer (or two)
In my clumsy post race stupor, I spilled my beer.
So I did the noble thing. Spilling beer is a major faux pax.
Damn, you didn't take a picture of that did you?
A little while later Bob came in and he and the kid from Florida rode the last lap together and called a truce on the race since either one could have forced one more lap. They played rock, paper, scissors for the win (I'm not kidding). Bob got second and the kid from Florida won.
It was a long, hard, painful day and a total blast.
Many, many thanks to my wife Nancy for all the help she gave me all weekend, to the guys and girls from NTMBA that are a hoot to hang out and race with, and to Misty, Kris and all the folks from Vassago - the bike rocked!
Congratulations to all the teams and solo riders from NTMBA, (I lost track of how y'all did but good on ya for hanging in there) and to Chris Davis who got 7th (I think) in Male Solo.
Big congrats to the KHS team on which Bob's son Wes is a member. They won the overall in Open Money (again). Good on ya.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tsali is always a fun race. The course is usually fairly buffed with virtually nothing technical to mess you up. You can just go out there and put it on cruise control and let it rip. You can't be to relaxed though. I have seen some serious injuries at Tsali.
Anyway Tsali is one of my "A" priority races and I am hoping to do well there. I got 5th last year and I'd like to move up a few places from that this year. We'll see how it goes.
This begins 3 hard weeks of racing for me. After Tsali I will be going to the Burn 24 in North Wilkesboro where teamates Eddie and Namrita Odea have a great event lined up. The week after the Burn, I will be heading to somewhere in Ohio for the Mohican 100. That's three weeks and about about 350 miles of racing to come.
I am pretty excited.
I'll let y'all know how it goes.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Or in my case, a seven month string of riding my bicycle in the rain. I ride in the rain so damn much I even bought a bike just for riding in the rain (who knew I'd like riding it so much I ride it when it's not raining too). Since last November, I have ridden in the rain at least once per month (usually more than once) and now I can chalk up May in the "wet" column too.
I met my buddy Jay Hayes today and our plan was to ride up into Virginia and cruise around the Tour De Possum Creek course. The TDPC is a ride held each July in conjunction with Kingsport's Fun Fest - a week long festival with various activities, concerts and stuff. The TDPC is a big event.
The weather has been real iffy but the radar was clean before we left and although it was really windy, we were looking for about 55 miles of easy spinning with a few rollers thrown in just for fun. Seven miles into the ride it rained this hard, cold, wind driven rain for about 5 minutes. Just enough to get you cold and wet. No big deal. We went on into the Peoples Republic of Virginia and rode on. We saw a variety of wild life like a Fox (complete with fresh kill), a Blue Herron, and a nice sized Water Moccasin. I turned around to get another look at the snake but he didn't seem to interested in me and I wasn't about to do a Steve Irwin and chase his ass into the river so on we went.
The wind got a lot worse until it just sucked and we made the decision to turn around. I wasn't about to push myself a week before Tsali and Jay wasn't having much fun plus the clouds were starting to look scary. The cool thing was the massive tailwind we enjoyed for a long time after we turned back.
In almost the exact same spot as it rained earlier, it started raining on us again -except this time it wasn't foreplay, it meant business.
It pelted us with hard, cold rain (I'm not so sure there wasn't some hail in there too), driving winds and the best part, lightning. we just put our heads down and hammered back to where we started. Did I mention the temps dropped to the mid-50's? We finished cold and soaked but it was still nice to get out and ride for a few hours.
I wonder if I can ride in the rain every month for a whole year?
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Like a Jabberwocky frameset in Snuffleupagus Orange, new Vassago Team Kit, and WTB tires and saddles.
On the left is WTB's Prowler - designed for medium to loose soil. On the right is the Vulpine - a minimally treaded tire for hardpack (Methinks the Vulpine will get tested at Tsali next week.)
WTB Silverado Team saddle. White is the new black.
You may be asking yourself how many singlespeed bikes does one person need. Hey some people collect shoes,
I collect Vassagos.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I love racing. I am kind of pushing it with the next few weeks and I am aware of that. I want to see how well a half used up 41 year old body will respond to the punishment I am about to inflict on it. For me it's fun to see where the point will come that I blow up so hard that I curl up in the middle of the trail, sobbing uncontrolably, in the fetal position in a puddle of my own urine and.......................
In the meantime, I am riding enough to keep me fresh and otherwise just hanging out.
I hope to do well at Tsali and the Burn, I am not that concerned about the Mohican. Since I DNF'd the first race in the NUE series, my chances of doing well overall are not good. I still am going to go and see what happens. I'm just a sucker for experimentation. Think of me as a big old 180lb lab rat.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Do you hate standing for long periods and not feeling fatigued?
Then you need my new workout program called Legs of Poo.
It's simple. Take your singlespeed rear wheel (you do have a singlespeed don't you??) and turn it around to the fixed gear side. Now go ride in the hills for a couple of hours.
It's that simple. Two short hours and you can have gimpy noodles of poo filled legs.
After my first ride on my SSRBFG (that's Singlespeed Road Bike Fixed Gear) on Monday and subsequent much longer ride with hills on Tuesday, I awoke Wednesday to quivering, shaking, wet noodles with feet on the ends that I was expected to walk on. I also was scheduled to ride my mountain bike Wednesday and again on the road yesterday. My legs hurt amazingly bad but I still rode Wednesday at Warriors Path where the hills are short and punchy (like my brother-in-law) but I took it as easy as I could.
Yesterday morning, I had to hold the rail going down the damn stairs at my house. I could not believe how much one ride on the fixie hurt me. I felt like I had lifted weights or something. So I did the only thing I could do.
I loaded up the geared bike for the road ride.
The Thursday ride @ Buck's Pizza has become one of the biggest rides in our area in just its second year. There was about 50 people there last night and about that many the week before. I like that ride because it ends with the 2 mile climb of Buffalo Mtn (with plenty of small hills before that) and alot of my friends are always there. I do most of my training alone so it's nice to ride in a group some.
Last night I made the decision to NOT chase anybody under any circumstances. I had my buddy and uber-training partner David Hayter to keep me honest which he did - for awhile. Once we got into the hills and heading towards Buffalo, David set off to catch a group ahead of us. I started to go to but sat up until they were far enough ahead where it didn't matter anymore.
I started up the climb proper and just spun my happy ass along to the top while I chatted with Jonell (she just ran a marathon last Saturday and was on her third ride of the week that I know of - and people call me insane). All was good.
Until the descent.
We started the descent and I heard someone talking about the sprint line at the bottom. Dammit why did I have to hear that. At first I didn't react but then I got into a nice tuck and bridged up to David (I'll keep you honest - sure you will buddy) and a couple of strong riders from TCRC - Perry and Kingsley. Still not totally committed to the sprint, I just sat in to observe but as the line drew near and the speed increased, I got that itchy feeling that could only mean I was about to do something stupid. I was just off the right of David and he started to fade. I saw Perry and Kingsley look over their left shoulders and I went hard. I buried myself until I spun out my 53X12 and as I went across the line, I saw 40mph on my computer and I had 20 feet on everyone else. Granted the sprint is on a slight downhill so those speeds are fairly easy but it still felt good.
For a minute then I remembered why I was riding supposedly easy.
I think I'll take today off completely. I am tired.