Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Halfway

When I made the decision to blow by the first aid station, I thought it was a good idea.  Last year, there were three aid stations along the course, and running a bike with two bottle cages I was able to plan it so I only had to stop at the second to refill.  This year, I rode The Executor (my Niner ROS9) which only has one bottle cage.  With the aid stations reduced by one this year with the course change (and the first about thirteen miles in), I decided to wear a backpack to keep me from stopping.  I hate wearing those during a race, but it worked out well.  I had plenty of fluids to get me through the long, boring, four mile climb up Mill Creek Road.



I rode with a couple of people that had never been up there before.  We chatted quite a bit, which made the climb go by quickly.  A short while later, I made it up to Interstate 40 and saw aid station number two.  Even though it was hot on that climb, I still had enough water to get me through one final push up the switchback on Kitsuma.

So I blew by that one too.

“Hopefully I made the right choice”, I thought.  If I ran out of water too soon, it would be a long ride back to town.  I didn’t want to be thirsty coming down Kitsuma, but I sure as hell didn’t want to waste any time by stopping.  I hit the singletrack, and made the long, slow hike up towards the top sipping water along the way.

Walking, riding, crawling.  I did it all to get up those stupid climbs.  I had company along the way, so it made it a little easier to have people suffering along with me.  Eventually the trail started going back down, and knowing that this was the final descent I just let it go.  I pushed my bike as hard as I could and even though I had a couple of close calls I never went down.  On the last rooty section, I ran up on another rider that was struggling.  It was so slippery that I almost hit her and went off the trail, but after regaining my balance I gently rode by and shot out into the parking lot of the Old Fort Picnic Area.  There were tons of EMS people standing around, and I happily waved at them.  I was relieved that I didn’t need their services.

After that it would be almost downhill all the way back to town (and the finish.)

I climbed one small hill, then dropped my seat and tucked in.  As I started speeding up, I heard sirens behind me.  I looked over my shoulder and saw an emergency vehicle approaching.  I was so close to the finish that I wasn’t about to slow down so I pulled over and started riding in the grass on the side of the road.  The vehicle came screaming by pulling a trailer, and from what I could see they were carrying an injured rider.  I rolled back onto the road and continued back to town.

As I got closer I became a bit concerned.  On the event website it said, “Turn LEFT onto town singletrack” just before the finish.  I wondered if it was some sort of death climb, and I really wondered if I had the legs to make it (plus I was out of water.)  Just as I saw the sign telling me to turn, my stomach dropped.  I climbed for a second, then it ended up being pretty much nothing.



Whew.

A minute later I rolled into the finish line, happy to have another one of these behind me.  I was out there for three hours and thirty minutes, which was about where I thought I would be.  The winner finished one hour, fifty four minutes.  Meh.  At least I took the time to enjoy the course.  Yeah, we’ll go with that.

I was tired, but not overly exhausted.  My legs felt good other than a leg cramp I suffered descending Kitsuma.  I managed to grab a beer, drink it, and walk back over to my truck to clean up.  I came back in time to see my buddy Matt from DeFeet roll in.



His goal was to finish, and finish he did.  It was a tough race, especially since he hadn’t been mountain biking very long.  It took me years to get to this point, and he pretty much jumped right in it.  Way to go.

In other news, remember when I took a friend out there for a pre ride of the course?  Well, I’m happy to say that Mike dropped over two hours off of his time and rolled in for the finish.  He was tired too, but happy to finish.  I see more races like this in his future (and probably more pre ride adventures with me.)

In all, it was a good event again.  I didn’t have to spend all day out there like those folks doing ORAMM, and I still got to experience some of the best trails out there and see some pretty cool mountain views.  My only regret was that I didn’t jump in the creek when I finished.

It looked refreshing.




I’ll definitely be back next year.  Maybe I’ll actually train for it next time too.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Long Day

Saturday.  The Jerdon Mountain Challenge was finally here.  I got up at 5:00 a.m., cussed at the alarm clock, and left the B-43 Worldwide headquarters about fifteen minutes later.  It was a beautiful day to drive up to the hills.



Turns out it would be a beautiful day to race too.

I got to Old Fort with plenty of time to pickup my race number, get myself together, and even wait in line for the bathroom.  Nothing is worse than a porta potty at a mountain bike race, but luckily it was early in the morning and I was one of the first customers.  I got to chat with lots of people, including the Florida crew that made the drive up to suffer in the mountains (some were suffering the next day at ORAMM too.) 

When it came to have the 7:45 racer meeting, I rolled up toward the front and waited for the start.  I was feeling pretty good, and ready for a nice day on my bike.  I brought my phone along in case I wanted to take photos, but I didn’t take any at the start.  Luckily, someone else did.

Photo credit:  Mike Long


The countdown started, and just like that we were off.  I spun my ass off, and with the police escort vehicle in sight I stayed towards the front of the pack.  I was “racing” for some reason, but it was good.  Well, until the road flattened out and all those geared bikes casually rolled by while I spun just to keep my speed at ten miles per hour.  I watched as my heart rate climbed, and it worried me a bit.

We turned up Curtis Creek road and it started going up a bit.  More geared riders rolled by, but with a bit of an incline I wasn’t losing too much ground.  I actually couldn’t wait until we hit Jarrett Creek Road so I could start climbing, and soon I got my wish.  The road got steep, and I stared gaining a little ground on some people that were spinning in an easy gear.

I passed quite a few people.  One group was chit chatting as I went by, and one of them playfully yelled out, “You’re just showing off!”  Except that I wasn’t.  With only one gear, I had no choice but to move at a steady pace.  It served me well, but I watched as my heart rate climbed up near 200 and stayed there.  Miles of climbing, passing people taking it easy, and lugging my heavy bike up that long fire road climb was fun but it was wearing me out.  I kept moving, and started playing games just to keep me going.  While I had no business “racing”, I would see people up ahead and make it my goal to catch them. 

One guy up ahead looked very familiar, and once I got beside him I realized that it was Dan Z., one of my Florida boys.  He was hurting (I was too but he didn’t know it), so I yelled for him to come with me.  He didn’t, so I left him behind.  Even though my heart rate was still through the roof, my mind felt good and I kept going.  After what seemed like forever, I reached the bottom of Heartbreak.  The entrance was steep and there was a tree down, so I hopped off my bike and started hiking up.

I walked some and I rode some.  Since I was just there less than a week ago, I knew it wouldn’t take long to get to the top.  I ate some Honey Stinger Energy Chews while I walked with my bike, and made it a point to keep moving.  A group of us were together, dragging our asses up the hill.  One guy slipped and fell down the mountain a little way, and once I realized that he was okay I kept going.

Much faster than last week, we reached the end of that climb(and the start of the Enduro™ section.)  A few of the guys in my group stopped to rest (and to prepare for the downhill), but I just took off.  I’d been waiting all day for this, and I wasn’t about to stop to catch my breath.  I let it go, hearing the cheers of the folks timing the start.  I got this.

I passed a few people that were taking it easy, and as I zoomed down a long downhill I saw someone standing on the side of the trail.  She yelled something that I didn’t hear so I slowed down.  I rounded a steep switchback and saw a guy way down in the bushes with several people standing around him.  He’d crashed in that corner, so I decided that I should be a little more careful.  I picked up my speed here and there (and passed more people), but I was being extra careful not to end up in the bushes myself.

Before I knew it, I’d descended all seventeen swicthbacks without incident, and came up to the final rocky descent.  There was a girl in the middle of the trail, so I slowed and let her go.  I made it down without crashing, rolled through the creek crossing, and made my way towards rest stop number one.

The Enduro™ section was over, and even though I didn’t do anything that stood out I sure felt good about completing it.  I blew by the first aid station and headed towards the climb up Mill Creek Road.

Hopefully I’d made a smart decision by not stopping.


I’ll stop this post here though.  More tomorrow…

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fun Friday


I’m feeling a little better.  Mostly because it’s Friday.  And unfortunately, it’s not because of alcohol.  I may try drinking tomorrow morning before I leave for the Jerdon Mountain Challenge to see if that makes me feel better.


So if you see me out there either before/after the “race” or on the course, I may not talk to you.  It’s not because I’m serious or anything.  I may have been drinking already, or I may just not care to talk.



I kid.  I’ll be out there tomorrow to have fun.  Even if I do still feel like shit.  Since it’s Friday, the fun starts today.

I’m gonna go home and start preparing to “race.”



See y’all Monday with a report…


From my death bed, perhaps.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It Makes Me Sick

Don’t worry, this is not a bitch session.

I took some time to my self da udda day and went for a ride.  I had a few errands to run, but since I wasn’t working I knew I would get in a decent spin in the dirt.  I went to BYT, our local slice of not flowy/smooth/way too easy/built for beginners goodness.  It’s always a good way to clear my head, and challenging enough that I don’t get bored.

I started my ride, and I was feeling great.  Only a few minutes in, I found a friend out on the trail.



Yes, I saved another turtle.  I’m getting pretty good at it.

Other than my little shelled friend, I had the place to myself.  I was on Darth Maul (my rigid SS), so I felt every bump, rock, and root.  I enjoy that.  I jump a little on that bike, but I don’t do any of that crazy shit.

I’m not stupid.



Well, sometimes I am.  Not in this case though.

It was a great ride.  The rain held off until I finished, and I didn’t feel like I had overworked myself.  There was only one small issue…

I felt a little sick when I finished.

It started as a small sinus/cold type thingy after my BYT ride, and then it got worse.  Sunday’s trip to the hills was all I could take I guess, and I woke up early Monday morning feeling like complete shit.  In fact, I noticed it in the restaurant Sunday after our ride when I couldn’t seem to get warm.

Monday evening when I got home from work it hit me hard.  I got in the bed and covered up, with chills so bad that I could hardly stand it.  The little lady said, “Why do you get sick every time you ride BYT?”

I have no idea.

I can’t blame the trail, but it is kinda odd.  I’m sure that trail doesn’t make me sick, but my job does.  I know, I know, yours probably does too.  I work in a hospital though, and not close enough to patients and visitors to build up any kind of immunity.  I wash my hands often and all that, but lack of sleep, stress, who knows what else leaves me prime for catching whatever the hell is floating around in the re-circulated air I breathe at my desk every day.  I gotta get outside more.

I’ve gone home and done absolutely nothing for the last few nights after work, hoping not to overdo it while I get ready for the Jerdon Mountain Challenge this Saturday.  I should be taking it easy anyway, but doing nothing while my body fights off some kind of death virus is probably not the best way to prepare for a race.  I haven’t even felt like drinking beer.  That’s no way to get ready to ride my bike.

I don’t care how bad I feel on Saturday though.  I’m “racing.”  Sure, I run the risk of getting worse like the last time I got sick, but I won’t pass up a chance to ride my bike in the hills with two hundred of my closest friends and two-wheeled enthusiasts.  I’ll get up at 5:00 a.m., drive to Old Fort, saddle up, and get all Enduro™ in my weakened condition.

It should be fun if I don’t die out on the trail.


At least I didn’t sign up for ORAMM...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

Continuing on from yesterday...

I might have gotten a little Enduro™ up there in the hills.


Anyway, we had a choice.  We stopped at the bottom of the climb on Mill Creek Road and had a little rest to figure out what to do.



Mike had worked really hard so far.  Lots of climbing, some tricky descents, and asking his body to do something it hadn't yet done.  I offered a choice:  take the road back to town or keep climbing to finish the course.

I wasn’t sure what he would choose quite honestly.  The ride back to town wouldn’t have been bad, since it was mostly downhill and all on the road (and something like a little over five miles.)  If we continued though, it would be over three miles of gravel/paved road climbing, followed by steep switchbacks up to the top of Kitsuma (and then down of course.)  He decided to keep going.

I was surprised, but happy that he was willing to keep grinding it out.

So we climbed.  Right up Mill Creek Road.  It was steady climbing, and even though he was hurting he wasn’t about to give up.  It took quite a while, but eventually we got to where the Point Lookout trail intersects the road.

One of Eastwood’s friends was there.



Mike was tired, but I told him we were almost there.  Once we finished the road up to where we turn off for Kitsuma, we were rewarded with a nice view.



We turned down the road towards Kitsuma.  It turned into singletrack, then turned into ugly.  Steep switchbacks were there to greet us, and Mike gave it everything he had to get through.  The reward would be lots of fun downhill, so I’m sure that’s what kept him going (it gets me through that section.)  We stopped on a lookout before the top to take a break, and we had a good view of the interstate below.



I’ll contrast that photo with one taken a short while earlier, when the trail started at the same elevation as the interstate.



We climbed a lot.

“Just a little more climbing”, I told Mike as we left there.  All we had to do was hang on just a bit longer and we’d be rewarded with fun downhill all the way back to the parking lot.  Once we started down, it was fun.  The trail was a little tricky in spots since it was wet here and there, but it kept things interesting.  Sideways wet roots almost caused certain death at times, but the pucker up feeling is what makes that descent so fun.  We screamed down the mountain, and after what seemed like mere minutes we arrived at the bottom.



The only thing left was the ride back to town, and since it was just about all downhill it went by quickly.  We were done, and most importantly, Mike completed his longest mountain bike ride (in the hills, which should count extra.)  We hung out for a while, cleaned up, and headed down the road for some grub.

We sat down and it was time to EAT ALL THE THINGS!



What a great day.  Mountains, mud, wild berries, and introducing someone to Pisgah.  TomTom and I had fun out there giving the Pisgah Lite Tour.  I’m pretty proud of my man Mike for pushing through what was probably the toughest ride he’s ever done.  With the race coming up in a few days, he gets to do it all over again soon.


I’ll be there too.  Maybe we’ll stop and eat berries again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Intro To Pisgah

I wasn’t here yesterday.  You may or may not have noticed.  I was tired.  I got in late Sunday night, and didn’t feel like taking the time get up extra early yesterday morning to write this crap and nonsense.

So yeah, Sunday was a long day.  My buddy Mike (from Charlotte Youth Cycling League fame) wanted to ride up in the hills.  He’d already signed up for the Jerdon Mountain Challenge, but he’s never ridden anything out there.  I volunteered to take him on a pre ride of the course.

I spent the night before getting ready.



While some might say this isn’t “real” Pisgah, it’s Pisgah enough for someone that’s never been there.  TomTom joined us for the ride too, and we got to Old Fort, NC late morning sometime.  We geared up and rolled out of town towards Curtis Creek Road.  After a short climb on pavement, we veered off onto Jarrett Creek Road.  That’s when the fun climbing started.

It wasn’t too bad, but I know Mike wasn’t really ready for it.  He pushed his way up though, working his ass off to get up the hills.  TomTom and I kept a social pace so we wouldn’t kill him.  You know, because it’s not really a good idea to kill someone on their first trip to the hills.  We stopped every so often, and Mike was doing quite well.  Somewhere in the middle of Jarrett Creek, we saw TomTom up ahead waiting for us. 

“Free snacks from Mother Nature!” he said.



So we stopped for a spell to eat wild berries.  They were so damn awesome too.



After climbing, I know Mike was glad to have a break.



We saddled back up and kept climbing.  For an old fire road, it wasn’t so bad.



Eventually we hit a long downhill section.  Since a little rain had fallen that morning before we got there, the corners were a little slick.  It was still fun, and we enjoyed the break from climbing.  Soon we rolled up past a creek that looked familiar to me.



“Just a little more climbing after this” I told Mike.  He pushed up.  We went up, down, back up, and down again.  We finally reached the bottom of Heartbreak Ridge.



There was a tree down at the beginning (or end depending on who you ask), so we climbed up and kept moving.  We hiked our bikes up some switchbacks to get to the intersection of Star Gap, and we were rewarded with a nice view along the way.



Since the course for this year’s race is a little different from last year, we had to head down Star Gap (last year we climbed up it.)  I warned Mike that it was tricky and full of tight switchbacks, and since the trail was a little wet we had to be careful.  There were only a few slip ups, and Mike did a great job getting down the mountain.



After a rocky descent and a creek crossing, we reached the end of Star Gap (or Heartbreak depending on who you ask.)  It pops out right at some railroad tracks.



Phase one, complete.  Mike was doing fine so far, even though he was hurting.  We were all happy to be out in the hills, and especially glad to be able to take Mike on a tour.  We had a decision to make though.

Do we ride back to town or keep going to finish the course?

I didn’t know if Mike wanted to, or even if he could.  That’s a lot to ask someone who’s never ridden out there before, and I kept that in the back of my mind.  We kept rolling to find a spot to let him take a break to figure it all out.


Tomorrow, we’ll get into that.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fun Friday

I wasn't here yesterday.  Did you notice?  If you read Dicky's post yesterday, you probably thought it was because of this:



It was not.  I survived.  Twas fun.  Hopefully we do it again real soon and all that.

Nope, yesterday I had to drive to Raleigh, NC for some work stuff, stay all day, and drive back home last night.  I'm pretty beat.  Okay, maybe the Wednesday night thing added to that.  Anyway, since it's fun Friday and all that, I'm gonna have fun.

I'm probably gonna stay home and play with my new toy.


For those of you that don't know/care about music, this is my new Wah Wah pedal.  The little lady's response to me walking in the house with it was, "Oh great.  More noise."

Yeah, noise.  So I can do this:




I might be stuck inside for a while.

Y'all get out and do some epic shit this weekend.



Monday.  I'll be here.  With tales of mountains, music, and beer (most likely.)