Wednesday, December 12, 2012


If the Mayans were right, the world will end in 2 weeks and none of this will matter. Two things about that bother me though, didn't the Mayans world end a loooong time ago? The second one is the bible says nobody knows, not the Mayans, not the crazy guy Texas and keeps coming  up with the "real day", nobody.. That's good enough for me. 

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I am looking back over 2012 and gearing up to race my bike again in 2013. I haven't done much racing in the last couple of years and having just re-signed with Vassago Cycles for 2013, I am looking at races and actual training n stuff. I just ended my cyclocross season (actually, due to being sick and work, the season ended for me in Oct but now it's done, done) and a quick glance at the stats shows that I ended up in 47th place in the series overall for Cat3; 23rd in Masters 45+ and 1st in the Mountain Bike category. In the state of TN, USAC shows me 15th in Cat3 and 1304 in the whole US.

Hmmm......  I'm not sure what to think about that. One thing I do know is that I'll bet I could have done a whole lot better if I had actually made a little effort to train. I went into this season with whatever fitness I had on hand from riding and racing my bike for the last 30 years. I didn't train. Heck I barely rode my bike 1 or 2 days a week. I haven't ridden as little as I did this year in a really long time. Some of the kids I raced against (and that whipped my arse) were half as old as the number of years I've been racing! Maybe I'm getting too old for this.....


I have a plan for training and for racing that includes time for family and time to excel at my 50+ hour per week job. I just have to nut up and get started. I do have some disciplinary adjustments to make and maybe throw out the old training model that says do a buttload of base miles in the winter and slowly build...blah, blah, rest, blah, blah....... I need some hammer time and better eating habits and yes, I will need rest but I get plenty of that. I need to just do it.

Some of the events I am planning to do include The 6 Hours Of Warrior Creek, Three Peaks, Pisgah 111K, Boone Roubaix, ORAMM, Pisgah Monster Cross, and of course a buttload of cyclocross in the fall/winter. I am not planning on killing myself with events like I have in the past and I want to stay fairly close to home. Fortunately, we have a plethora of races and cool events all within a 2 hour drive.

Vassago Cycles is working on my new racing tools, an Optimus Ti for the dirt and a ti framed Fisticuff (with disc brakes! Joy!) for cross and the ultra-cross stuff. I am excited to get them and put some miles on them both. There is plenty of good stuff coming down the pike from Vassago Cycles and more than worth a look if you are in the market for a new mountain or cross bike next year.

First I gotta work on the motor.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting the Band Back Together

In 2009 as I rolled across the finish line of the Black Bear Rampage in Chattanooga, little did I know then, my world was about to be rocked. In the course of a few months time, I lost my job, my mom, nearly my life and needless to say, racing became a back burner sort of affair. I hardly noticed when my longtime sponsor Vassago Cycles quietly closed the doors for good. Misty and Kris are good friends of mine and I applauded their efforts but understood their motivation to move on to something else. Picking up the pieces, I found a great job that I love to do, I never stopped riding my bike (it really IS about the bike regardless of what you may read in the media nowadays) and I still race. Racing however whet from 24 hours to 12 to 6 and now 45 minutes of WFO, choke on your heart kind of events - Cyclocross. I love racing but more than that, I love riding my bike. Road, mountain or cross, it makes no difference. I love bicycles.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by former teammate Tom Ament about Vassago Cycles. It seems Tom got together with some investors and a few shop monkey types and they are going to relaunch Vassago Cycles in 2013 and I am going to be a part of it again. I am excited to be hooked up in the bike industry again and to ride and race some really cool bikes with some great folks. As I sit here on the 46th anniversary of my entry onto this planet, I have my training plan pretty much in place and I know where I need to focus my energy and effort vis a vis training to be where I need to be next Spring. My program will be a bit smaller than the past - insteand of 15-20 races a year, I am looking at a more realistic schedule that works with my rather busy work schedule. I am planning on some short XC type events, a few 6+ hour events, maybe a hundie or two, possibly another 24 and the Pièce de résistance - The Pisgah Stage Race. I will finish out the year of course with a buttload of Cyclocross.

Should be fun. 


Monday, October 1, 2012

Some People are Cutters, I Race Cyclocross..

This past weekend was the opening two rounds of the Mud, Sweat, and Gears Cyclocross Series and every year since its inception in 2004, I have vowed to reach September fit and ready to race. This year was no different than the others - I came, I saw, I was ready to suck.

Here's how it unfolded:

After a spring and summer of working 50+ hour weeks, I found myself riding my bike once, maybe twice a week. Sure there is the trainer I could have ridden. I could have also stuck toothpicks under my fingernails and learned to play the Harp too. Where's the fun in that? After working the first half opening day, I arrived at the venue armed with my mountain bike instead of my cross bike and planned to lay waste to the mtb class. No, really, for the first time ever, I planned to win a race and I did. It rained and the course was a total slopfest and there is one thing I can do and that is ride in slop.
We lined up and in 3, 2, 1 we were off. I dug deep and got a sweet holeshot, led the first lap and pissed it away the first trip through the barriers... So much for great plans.  No losing my cool, I got on the new leader's wheel and just followed him to see where he was strong and where he may be vunerable. About a lap later, I passed him and that was the end of it. Game, set and match to Duckman. It was a small field and I probably had more slop riding experience on fat tires than all the others combined but hey, I still had to pedal the dang bike and stay off the ground. I'll take it.

Sunday was a different story however. I lined up first in Masters 45+(1234) and initially there was some confusion as to how we were starting. They had us (all 50 35+ and 45+ combined) headed straight into this really narrow and slick off camber section that was sure to produce great loads of carnage. After and appeal from pretty much everyone, the start was moved to a straight and boom! We were off. I came through the first turn in 6th and made it through the barriers and first part of lap one pretty good. My demise came when we got to a log laying in the middle of a turn. I had ridden it several times during my hot laps so I knew it wasn't a problem. The guy in front of me didn't know that though. Nuts, meet stem. Stem, meet nuts. You are going to be good friends. For the next 45 seconds, until the urge to vomit subsided, I was passed by I dunno... 4, 5? Meh.... Just turn the pedals and go.
The next place to give me a fit was a steep, muddy little run-up that had no traction anywhere. I got great scores in creativity for my unique grouping of cuss words. It was frustrating but it is what it is. I tried to ride as clean and fast as I could for the remainder of the race and my lack of race fitness was more than evident as I bled positions until I bottomed out at 14. Dead mid-pack. Hey, not bad for not training all summer.
I rolled right around and right to the line for the start of the Cat 3 race. When I burn out, I want to scorch the earth.... I had no illusions whatsoever of doing well in this race my goals were simple: Not finish last, not crash and not get passed by the entire women's Pro field that was starting behind us.
I actually got a decent start, somewhere mid-pack but the fade to the back came much quicker than in the previous race. Fifteen minutes into the 45 minute race, I was in 20something place and suffering like a Yak giving birth to twins. I was so tired, I mis-timed one of my dismounts and raked my shin across one of the barriers and then tripped over my bike trying to remount it. I was filled with joy from this. Some people are cutters, I race cross.
I didn't sandbag though and I rode with whatever I had left for the remainder of the race and when I finished, I was finished.
I looked around and saw women still on course, I didn't crash (although I was bleeding from 2 of 4 limbs) and later check of the results would show I missed DFL by 2.

Thus begins my Cross season. Maybe I will train for next year. 

Yeah, riiiiight.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nuttin' Up

This time a week ago, the 2012 Monster Cross wasn't even on my radar as something to do on my Saturday. I originally had to work but that was changed and since my sister was going to attempt it I figured what the heck. Doesn't matter that I haven't trained much and that I haven't ridden my cross bike since January. I'm Duckman and I (used to) live for this stuff. Uh..... riiight.
Put the names Eric Weaver, bike event and Pisgah National Forest together and you will have something evil. Eric comes up with some pretty wicked events and the Monster Cross, although probably the easiest of Pisgah Productions events, filled the bill. 70 miles, 10K feet of elevation gain, gravel roads, a long section of the Blue Ridge Parkway... Yummy.
I lined up with Megan, Anet Lamberson (sans Bob) and Michael Ritter (a good friend and former Dr Skip's Medicine Show teammate) and a hundred or two other assorted crazies and soon enough we were off.

After a short section of road we turned into the first section of FS road and I immediately jam my chain into my spokes. Crap! Maybe in addition to training, I should have also looked at the bike closer. Once I got that fixed, I found myself in DFL and chasing the main group down. Uh.... what am I doing that for? Didn't I just mention that I haven't trained much lately? I need to back off and just ride. Unfortunately it took me until I caught a good portion of the pack before coming to that conclusion...
The race becomes a ride now.
That would soon change. I was riding a climb about 4 miles from CP1 with Michael and when I stood up, my seat just felt funny. Well it should have felt funny because a bolt in the seatpost broke and it flopped around like a dead fish. I failed to see anything philosophical or funny about that. I was beyond screwed. I managed to get it set to where it was at least somewhat stable as long as I sat on it and I rode onto the CP. Descending on gravel roads while staying firmly seated is kind like trying to walk while holding a roll of quarters in your buttcheeks.. It ain't easy. I got passed by tons of people: little old ladies with walkers, a pack of Girl Scouts on bikes, a herd of turtles and two kids on strider bikes (would have been three but I shoved the third one into the weeds - don't judge). I made it to the check and a guy from Liberty Cycles zip-tied my seat and got it at least rideable.
I decided to try it, what did I have to lose?
The ride now becomes about survival.
I had 26 miles on the BRP and then mostly down to the finish. Sweet right? Yes, but I (along with others) missed a crucial turn that was poorly marked and after climbing about an hour after the turn I missed, I found myself atop a ridge looking dead ahead at the Smokies..... I was pretty sure I was waaay beyond screwed now. Turning back, I wanted to quit. I had no idea really where the turn was and I was sick of climbing and out of food and almost no water. Time to "nut up" and finish this thing. I found the turn and was greeted with several glorious miles of paved DOWWWWN. Yes!" The best thing was there were still people on the "70 mile route coming to the turn and I was now assured of not finishing LAST! Yay me!
The final 16 miles were part gravel, partly paved and had a couple of short, steep climbs and was pure joy -not. I got to the final 5 mile section of pavement and put my bike in the big ring and pushed as hard as I could. My suitcase of courage was empty so I tore the bottom out of it.
I finished. I don't know how  long, I don't care. I finished and that's enough. Megan finished the 70 mile ride (hahahahaha, I'm gonna call it that now) a little ahead of me and that made me happy. Michael and Anet did well too. None of us crashed and it was a good day!
Thank God for zip ties.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Really, I am a Bike Racer.

I am midway through my taper for the upcoming Pisgah Monster Cross this weekend and I am slowly remembering what it is like to race a bike. Unfortunately my legs won't remember until about 3:00 pm Saturday. Similar to PTSD patients in the third or fourth month of therapy. I've ridden in Pisgah before, I've climbed 10K plus feet in Pisgah before. No big deal right? Um... yeah. For the last 7 months I've been riding my bike roughly 200 miles a month. What used to be a decent week of riding has been displaced by life stuff and well........

It is what it is.

I will line up Saturday and I will have my raceface on and I will be ready for battle, even if

the battle is in my mind. Who knows, maybe I will be inspired to actually do actual training and get into actual, you know... like shape. Who knows..
In three days time, I'll crack open my suitcase of courage and we'll see what's in there. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Riding on the "D" Train

I'm baaaaaaack.

Looking back through the archives, it seems that I used to do some really tough races on bikes. At one time I was in pretty decent shape and on at least two different occasions, I cross-dressed to race my bike.....Hmmm.
All that stuff seems like a lifetime ago. My life after racing has been really busy and my fitness, well lets just say "she ain't what she used to be" referring to the blonde, double G alter-ego that I have been associated with. I've been busy with a myriad of things, work things, house things, dad things, thing things and more things. I still ride bikes, love bikes, need bikes in my life, and even race bikes once or twice...... a year.  I have seen my fitness fall way off from what it has been but anybody who has been in this sport for any amount of time knows about that. Layoffs are inevitable and on the D train, every seat sucks and the only destination is Hurtsville, population - me.

I am riding, once or twice a week but riding nontheless and in typical Duckman fashion I have decided to do the Pisgah Monster Cross Race. I started training for it today and the race is next week. Time to taper....

Cyclocross is coming up beginning at the end of the month and after that, who knows. I'll bet there will be a bike and a certain level of discomfort in there though.