Monday, May 23, 2016

P111K 2016

I signed up.  Finally.  Thursday night.  The weather forecast improved and I decided, "Why not go for it, and see what happens".  I know where and when to bail and if I can't make it,  I'll at least start.

That 5:30am alarm though,  its  a real downer.   I got up, got my stuff together and drove to the start just outside of Brevard.   As I was getting dressed and ready, I realized that I had forgotten my race sammies at home.  A quick text to the wife and plans were made to have them delivered to Yellow Gap.  (mistake #1)

Less than 100 of us started off, with partly cloudy skies and perfect temps.  Up 276, right on the gravel, then right on Clawhammer.  I maintained my pace well, and while my heart rate was slightly higher than I would have liked, I was enjoying the momentum and definitely not burying myself.  Although, when I caught the Simril Train, I wondered if I should back off.

The week before the race, I switched my gearing to 32x21,  from the 33x22 happy legs gear.  It felt good as the 33x22 had become too spinny over the past couple of rides.

Up and over Buckhorn Gap, down to the river, Squirrel and Cantrell Creek,  then finally up to rest stop #1 at Turkey Pen Trailhead.

The Motion Makers crew did an amazing job getting me rolling again,  I grabbed some pb n j and took off.

I was feeling good and walking some of the steeper stuff to conserve energy.  Bradley Creek Trail and Road went by pretty quickly and I arrived at Yellow Gap by 11:30am.  Not bad.  The Liberty guys at rest stop #2 were chipper but could not find my bag.  After what seemed like 5 minutes, I finally found it, on the tarp, 10 feet from where I laid my bike down. 

I had planned on eating a sandwich here, but with the stress of not finding my bag, I didn't think about grabbing what was available.  I figured that I would eat my Ally's Bar on the N Mills Loop and eat a sammie when I got back.  (mistake #3).

On the way down to the campground, I passed the wife and kid.  She offered me the sammie, but I refused because outside support outside of the rest stops are illegal......  (mistake #4)

I continued on, and started getting really hungry.  I ate gels and the Ally's Bar.  Still hungry.  I realized that the Ally's Bar, while good n tasty, does not have quite the calories that I needed.   I'm pretty sure that at this point in the ride, I started dipping into reserves that would be impossible to replace while still on the bike. 

I ground my way around N Mills River and finally back up to Yellow Gap.  I stopped to refill and finally ate a sammich.  I was feeling ok, and not worried about making it.  I took off.  But then I started to fade.  Loss of power, sleepy,  a couple of dizzy moments.  I stopped on the side of the trail for about 5 minutes.  I was at mile 51.  I was looking at another 4-5 hours of riding/hiking if things went well.  

I stood on the edge of that hole looking in.  I was hydrated so that was good.  I felt ok, except the dizziness kind of worried me.  I could keep going and keep eating and drinking,  trying not to go too deep into that hole.  I was pretty sure that my body was burning everything it had.  I could also keep going and drop off the edge of the hole and require rescue... hafway up Laurel, that could take a while. 

51 miles and still have the energy to get back to Yellow Gap.  Not bad.  7 ish hours in the woods on a beautiful day.  Still having fun.  Still feel good.  Still reaching my goal of being fit and feeling good.  I could press on.  I might finish.  I'm not going to go there today. 

Turning around was easy.  I was a little bummed at not finishing,  but I don't want to go down that hole right now,  so it was ok. 

I called the wife and she gladly came and rescued me.   She is awesome!

Back at the start finish, got cleaned up and had a burrito and a Coke.

I'm already planning on how to train better for next year!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

If You Don't Start, You Can't Fail.....

Unless you failed already by not starting...

So,  I decided to give it a go.  I've trained for this,  more than any other event I've trained for in a while.  I feel like I have the endurance to get it done.  I would not mind having a little more speed, but.....

I'm lacking the self confidence.  It has been a tough week for the mountain bike community.  But we can't just give up.  We gotta keep on trying.  The funny thing is, most of my training rides have been solo.  When I think about riding this route solo, it makes it that much tougher on a mental level.  I saw some pics and post of the final riders finishing PMBAR, and realized that I won't be out there alone.  

And then of course,  what am I telling my kid, if I quit something because I can't/ it is unsafe to continue,  that is waay different than quitting by not starting. 

It really helps that the weather is looking just about perfect. 

I'm registered and....maybe ready!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


"The PISGAH 111K is the ultimate cross-country-endurance mountain bike race. Racers follow a set 111 kilometer course on the finest trails and gravel roads Pisgah National Forest has to offer. The route includes over 11,000 feet of climbing along the way. This is a true mountain bike race with no map reading skills required, just follow the arrows."  Pisgah Productions

Sounds amazing, huh?

I've trained,  I could be more ready, but I think I'm ready.  Physically.  My mental state not so much.   I've hit the wall there and lack the confidence to go out and attempt this thing.  Is that a bad thing?  Possibly not.  

Do I want this bad enough to finish no matter what? No.
Am I going to give 100%?  Yes
Am I going to give 110%?  No,  because I've been there and done that and landed in the hurt locker,  having to call and rely on EMS to bring life back into my failing body.  
Do I want to be out on the bike in the rain for 12 hours? No
Do I want to be worn out for two weeks after? No
Do I want to ride my bike, turn where I want, stop where I want, when I want? Yes
Do I want to complete this beast? Yes
Will I regret if I don't try it this year?  Don't know,  I usually don't regret my decisions

And so goes the conversation in my head.  I'm just not 100% into it.  There is a chance I will line up and give it a go, and decide throughout the day if I'm into it and have the desire to ride through and finish, but there is equal chance that I won't.  

I guess I'll keep the mental dialogue going until I decide...... or not.

Monday, May 16, 2016


Windsurfing,  it found me again.   I spent 6 yrs on a Caribbean island named Bonaire.  The island is a windsurfing paradise and has produced some of the top freestyle champions in the world.   I was no champion,  I was on old clapped out gear racing guys on the newest, lightest and best.  The life of a poor missionary kid I suppose.  I earned the respect of my peers and the race promoters though.  One race director told me that if I had modern equipment, I would do quite well. 

After a regatta one year, some Americans offered me a killer deal on a sweet windsurf package.  Board, sails and everything.  For reasons beyond my control, I could not take them up on that offer. 

Fast forward a couple of years and at 16yrs old in the 11th grade, I was plopped down in Charlotte.  This was late 80's, around 1988.  I found the International Board Sailing Club of Charlotte and joined.  I was able to purchase a windsurf package and get out to Lake Norman quite a bit. 

Then I went to college in Toccoa GA and there was nowhere close to sail, and the board and gear took up too much space in my dorm room.  I gave up and sold my gear.

20 yrs later, I got a killer deal on another complete windsurf rig.   I'm thrilled to be back into the sport. 

There is nothing like it, and I have tried a lot of different sports in the past 30 yrs.   When the wind is up,  hooking into the harness,  sliding into the footstraps,  leaning back on the sail...... the board planes and skips along the water at 25 mph.  

The wind in my hair, the sun in my eyes, the only thing that matters is that I'm flying,  free and unfettered.  Love it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Home Sweet Home

 Spring is on the way in and I have been crossing some projects off of my list!  I've been getting the kid more involved in helping out too.   The above is a garden bench that I bought for the wife about 15 yrs ago, for our anniversary.  The kid and I rebuilt it and re-gave it to her for mother's day. 
 A couple of weeks ago, we also built some long promised raised beds,  these were supposed to be the wife's birthday present, but I promised they would be ready in time for outdoor plants, which is mother's day, so they got done.

Last Sunday, I spent 13 hrs painting our house.  Since adding on and the remodel project, the entire house has never been the same shade of green and there was some bare siding that had not yet been painted. 
 I spend my spare time over the last couple of weeks treating the wood trim,  most tedious job ever, and then finally started the light green paint on Sunday.  I was going to to it in sections, but I can paint like a mad man, and decided to push on through and get 'er done.  I missed hanging out with the wife and kid, but now I have more time to hang out with them.

 Next on the list after we save up a little more dough, is new front gate and replace the old falling apart privacy fencing.  
 Oh yeah,  below it a swing that I built and hung in the maple tree in our back yard.  The wife loves it!  I love it when she love it!

On top of all that, I still sometimes get out for a ride, and for that I am so thankful!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Stage 4 &5

 Friday, Stage 4 came.  It is a big stage but one of my favorite routes.   Sundra, who got on the podium yesterday, and I decided that Cam should get a chance up on the box, so we assumed a steady pace and Cam took off.  I was able to slowly reel him in all day but he got up the road and I didn't see him again until after the finish.  Congrats man, nice ride! 

Stage 5 is always bitter sweet.  I wanted to party pace, but I also wanted to get it over with.  I was so excited that I had trouble sleeping.  Everytime I woke up, I got a rush of adrenaline and the voice in my head kept saying "Go for it". 

After surviving the logistical pain in the butt shuttle to the start and standing in the gap freezing, we finally started, and I took off up the first climb, a long steep gravel road up to Farlow.  I was having fun and focusing. If I had been paying attention, I would have noticed that I passed my rabbit,  2nd place single speeder: Mike Montalbano.  But I didn't,  so I kept plodding along, thinking I was in no man's land again, between 2nd and 4th.   At the 2nd creek crossing on Farlow, I turned around and saw Mike.  Whoa. 

I put the hammer down and dropped him like..... something. 

I had the fastest rest stop ever,  rolled up, the girl had my bag ready, I asked for "one bottle please", and I was out of there faster than you read about it.

Spinning my way down Davidson River Trail I kept looking back but saw noone.   Through the gate and onto the long slow climb of death up to Bracken.  I kept the pedal to the metal. 

On the last little grunt, I turned and saw Mike charging up the hill.  He caught me in the exact same place that I caught Michael Cosgrove 2 yrs ago. 
Mike:" Man, I've been chasing you for a long time"
Me:" I know, I've been running from you for a long time!"
 He ripped down Bracken and I didn't see him until the pavement before the finish.  We rode through the finish together, and I climbed on the 2nd step for the day.  Thanks Mike.
 I stayed in the 3rd overall position and won the coolest hand made trophy I have ever seen.

Pisgah Stage Race #8 for me.  Each one has been different and taught me something new. 

Can't wait until next year.

Thanks Todd Branham and The Blue Ridge Adventures Crew for another great week in paradise.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pisgah Stage Race 2016 Stage 3

 Long day in the woods,  4.5 hrs for 29 miles.   2nd place is so far ahead, and 4th place is close to an hour behind,  I wasn't motivated to be "racey" today.  So, I took it easy and enjoyed the scenery. 

It was a beautiful day, with temps climbing up into the 60's by the end.  The forest is waking up from winter slumber and green plant sprouts are popping up everywhere!  Such an amazing time to be out there.  

And then I started thinking about racing, and podiums and what is really important to me and those around me.  I thought about my kid, who often and selflessly passes up opportunities to score goals in an effort to assist teammates to score.  I thought about life, love and how grateful I am to be riding a bike.   I thought about all of the people who have worked with me and given me  a helping hand to get where I am today. 

I'm not going into the details of what happened next, but Sundra got the 3rd step of the daily podium for stage 3!   (I wish I had a pic...)

Live, Love, Give!