Saturday, April 25, 2009


With no significant racing activity going on for me right now and lots of boring, domestic, daily drudge type stuff taking over, I have been at a loss for things to write about lately. Just because there's six weeks between races ( I should have been at the Cohutta 100 today but I had to work) for me, doesn't mean I've been sitting on my can doing nothing. I have been training as much as my screwed up schedule will allow and trying to get plenty of stress-free, quality rest (which is sometimes a joke around here) since some of my training has been very, very hard.
Just a few miles from where I work is Holston Mountain, a nice 6 mile roadie climb that goes up hwy 421 to Mountain City and eventually into North Carolina. I have been hitting that thing as much as possible to get some hard, fast and dirty climbing fitness. I have been using my geared road bike some but also my singlespeed. With 48x18 gearing, the singlespeed is a beast on Holston. One time up has been all I wanted up until now. Today I will do two trips up the mountain and hope for the best. My goal is up and back 2X in 1:30. We'll see how that goes.

The TNR ride is a roadie ride on Thursday night that I did all last year. It's really fun and I always see alot of my friends there. Sometimes I really like riding with people (most of my training is done alone) and the TNR is mucho fun. The only problem now is that it begins at 6:00 and I don't get off work until 5:30 (in another city - 20 miles away). Getting there in 30 minutes with traffic is nearly impossible. I left work Thursday precisely at 5:30 and headed towards Johnson City. I was already changed, tires pumped up, water bottle filled, all I had to do was get there and get on my bike.
I was 5 minutes late and not a soul to be seen was in the parking lot. I got on and chased without a warm-up. Five minutes, ten, fifteen into the ride still nobody. Damn, how fast were they going? I thought. Finally, I caught a couple of riders off the back of the main pack and I managed to bridge up to within a minute of them. Since I was on my singlespeed, I was at a huge disadvantage on the flats so I tried to make all my time up on the climbs. Twice, I got close enough to try and seal the deal but both times, I missed. There is a longish flat portion before the final 2 mile climb over Buffalo Mountain and I knew I couldn't do anything there so I tried to recover some (I had thus far ridden my ass into the ground and was cooked) so I could make one last stab on the mountain. By the time I got there, I only caught a couple more people and the main pack succeeded in eluding me.
It was a great ride though and kinda gave me a hint at my current level of fitness. Sadly, if I am going to continue being late and chasing, I will have to bring out my geared bike. My singlespeed just isn't geared high enough to do anything on flat roads. At first I was kinda bummed because this is as much as a social ride for me as it is anything but I think I am going to like chasing rabbits - it's fun.

Tomorrow is a big ride in the dirt. I am trying to really finish my current training schedule strong in preparation for the first big races (for me) for 2009 - Dirt, Sweat and Gears, 12 Hours of Tsali and the Cowbell Challenge.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Helter Skelter

"When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide Where I stop and turn and I go for a ride Till I get to the bottom and I see you again Yeah, yeah, yeah"

That song was in my head yesterday (not the Beatles one but theMotley Crue version 'natch) somewhere during my first ride back after a week of couch surfing and basically doing nothing except being sick. Rob Morley and me decided to think outside the box a bit and what we came up with was a wicked variation on the hill repeat theme - we did mountain repeats!
We headed to the base of Holston mtn where we parked and after a short warm-up, we hit it for the first of three reps to the top and back. Holston is a respectable climb, about 6 miles long and around 5-6% avg grade. It won't kill you but it will get your attention. The first lap up is pretty simple, anyone can climb it once. Lap 2 was about cold reality and finally lap 3 was, as Rob says, all blue collar. It was pretty rough. Probably not the best first ride back after a week off. It's my way of showing my body that I am not dealing with a full deck. Ah the life of manic-unstability.
The whole workout was only a little over 2 hours and although I wasn't wiped out at the end, I didn't want anymore either. I'll definitely add that one to my bag of evil tricks.

My view of Rob (who is younger and a lot lighter than me) leaving me to suffer alone.

Third lap. Blue collar suffering and character building............

.......An attempt at a artsy shot........

Friday, April 10, 2009

Couch Surfing.....

That's what I've been doing all week. I felt it just as I woke up before last Saturday's race, the beginnings of a "bug". I race anyway and felt fine during and after. Sunday, I went out for a couple of hours on the road and felt fine. Monday morning was a whole 'nother story though and it got worse before getting better. I did nothing at all for the next 5 days except work and come home to ride the couch until the next day. It's been a rough week and I feel like shit.
Now I feel bad because I have missed a whole week of riding. I need to ride, I have a physical dependence to ride my bike and if I cannot do so for a few days, things get bad.

At any rate, I plan to get back on the bike this weekend and hopefully back to my regular schedule next week.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Roast Duck. It's what's for dinner............

I pulled into Warrior Creek Campground in North Wilkesboro NC early Saturday morning and readied for the first annual 6 Hours of Warrior Creek put on by the BMCC. I had ridden in the area before at the Burn 24 (Dark Mountain trails) and on the OVT and figured the Warrior Creek system would be similar with characteristic short, punchy climbs; steep swoopy descents and fast, rolling sections with lots of berms. I wasn't far off in my prediction as the trail was just that: fast, swoopy bermed descents, short, punchy climbs and just a tad of technical stuff to keep you on your toes. At the end of the day, I think I would have changed the name to the Ike Turner trails though. Riding there is one thing, racing however is another. I felt like I had been bitch-slapped for 6 hours by the time it was over! It was tough - but very fun.

Here's what happened.

I met up with a bunch of my buddies from home: Bob, Anet, and Wes Lamberson, their coach Andy Johnston, Ben Appleby, Michael, Greg, Anthony, Brad, Sara, Andy and Abbie, Eric the Wonderdog, it was nice to have alot of homies around for a change. I also saw Dicky sporting a trick, new Meatplow, Stephen, and quite a few people I have met through racing. There was quite a turn out for a new event. After all the preparations, I lined up my Vassago Optimus for the start. I was exceedingly happy that there would be a mass start as opposed to a LeMans start. Any day is a good day if I don't have to run. I was a bit worried when I heard that there was 1.5 miles of pavement before the singletrack though. Usually that means bad things for a singlespeed rider as even mediocre geared riders can use their mechanical advantage and get ahead of you only to stub you up in the woods at the first rock or crooked root they come to. Here was a different story though as the first 1.5 miles included a nice, long climb! Yay!

I lined up next to Bill Collie (another homie and really strong rider) and right behind Dicky. As Andy said in the pre-race banter: Go hard or go home! When we took off, I rode hard and crested the climb within a pack of about thirty that included some really heavy hitters and we had a gap of about 30 seconds over the other hundred or so racers that were behind us. I think every race should start with a climb and mass start! I was in some strange territory though. I could see just ahead of me people like Andy Applegate, Dicky, Will Black, Bill Collie. I knew I couldn't stay for long but it was nice to be there for as long as I could hang in I had a great start and the first lap had some traffic but mostly is was the easiest first laps I have ever had at one of these things. After the initial effort from the start, I tried to find my "all day pace" and get a look at the trails since I had never seen them before. I quickly learned that this was a demanding course with very little place to rest. You were either on the gas or bracing yourself against one of the numerous G-outs that tried to slam you against the top tube of your bike or jamming into one of the many bermed turns. I came through the Start/Finish area an hour and some change after I left it and recalculated my pre-race goal of 6 laps. I needed to slow down some and since my first lap was over an hour, 6 laps wasn't happening.

I went into lap 2 and backed off my pace a little. It was starting to get warm which was fine with me but I am used to riding in 40 degrees and wet. 70 degrees and sunny without being acclimatized to heat was kinda uncomfortable. I was still riding and climbing well but the course was already going to work in kicking my ass. It was tough. Into my third lap, I was looking at a part of my pain cave that I hadn't seen in awhile. It's a dark, hot, nasty place that isn't a lot of fun to be in. My shoulders and arms were tired and I was careful to not screw it up. About a mile from the finish was a couple of semi-technical rock gardens that weren't hard to ride but if you didn't pay attention, you could get hurt easy. After my third lap, I stopped in my pits for about 5 minutes to stretch my back and neck. It was about then that I realized if I didn't get my butt in gear, I would miss the cut-off and my chance at 5 laps so I took off. Somewhat slowly...

My 4th lap was all about blue-collar suffering. I was hurting and had to walk some of the steepest climbs because I just didn't have the legs any longer to keep my 32x18 turning. In my last lap, I noticed I didn't get passed a lot except for a few team racers. I guess the course was taking it's toll on everyone. Regardless, I didn't care much about that then. I was in a bad place.

I rolled across the line 7 minutes past the cut-off and ended my chance to do 5 laps. I was 25% disappointed and 75% happy that my suffering was over. I was cooked!

The fun wasn't over yet. The BMCC had set-up a nice barbecue/awards ceremony with free beer from the Blowing Rock Brewing Co that was really great. For a first event, the BMCC really set the bar pretty high with a great course, fun race and awesome post race eats. I can't wait to go back next year.

After stuffing my face with hog and filling up on Blowing Rock Bock, in my haste to get back to TN, I forgot to check where I finished -doh! I looked before the final results were posted and I was in 12th ss and 44th overall. That's fine. I wanted to better but i was happy with how I did and I know just where my fitness is right now. My next event is the Dirt, Sweat and Gears race coming up in May and it's my first "A" race of the year.

Congratulations to Andy Johnston and Wes Lamberson for their win in the 2 Person Male class and to Bob and Anet Lamberson for getting second in Co-ed. Great job y'all!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Touch of Gray

Damn, has anyone seen the sun for longer than two or three hours in the last three months? I hate to be a little bitch but this is getting a bit old. Every day is cold, gray, wet and just maybe a glimmer of the center of the universe at one point or another. Five out of my last seven days of riding have seen me either cold, wet or cold and wet. It just gets old.

At any rate, I have the orange crate packed and ready to head to North Wilkesboro after work for the the innaugural 6 Hours Of Warrior Creek race that is tomorrow. This is the third and final race that I targeted specifically for training before the "season" starts for me in May. I hope that the training I have been able to do (which isn't much unfortunately) will prove to be working and I will see some improvement over the Heritage Park race from a few weeks ago.

Rain, cold, wet, whatever. It's racing and racing is fun. I'll have a full story when I get back.