Monday, September 22, 2014

Stage Race

Its that time again.  The Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race is here.  My head is back in the game and my legs are feeling decent.  My goal this year,  to have fun and finish.   Ok,  I'm gonna give it everything I have, but I'm not going to stress about it. 

I haven't trained specifically enough for this race, but I am coaching my kid's soccer team.  And I spent the afternoon teaching him how to sail, why the wife slept so she could work the night shift.  Then I took the kid to the park and helped him work on his soccer skills..... the "distractions" go on. 

It is a good trade off, one I don't regret at all. 

I'm excited about meeting a bunch of new people and hanging out with old ones: 

  "We are excited to have racers join us from all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand and St Maarten.  We've also got folks coming from 19 different states including as far away as Washington, Oregon, Michigan, California, and Colorado! "

This will be the 6th annual Stage Race.  Each one has been a little bit different.  My total finishing time in 2012 was 24 hrs.  Last year it was 14 hrs.  The courses have been shortened a little bit!

5 days, 140 miles, 20,000+ ft of elevation gain

Looks like a fun time.

 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Change

I've been tired,  dragging,  unmotivated.  Part of me was even dreading Pisgah Monster Cross last week and now Pisgah MTB Stage Race next week.   Trying to rest, taking time off the bike helped a little. 

When Thursday rolled around, I decided to go on one last THRN with Liberty Bikes.  Kevin, Jonathon, Shota and Mark (?) showed up.   We rolled out at 5:30pm,  early because of the impending sunset.  I made sure I focused on my pedal stroke.  I had realized before Monster CX that I had let my pedaling technique slip.  Quite possibly the reason that I had cramped up on the last two THNRs. 

At some point during the ride, Kevin and I had a quick talk about my perspective.  I realized that it was a strong possibility that I was psyching myself out with negative thought trains.  He agreed.  I decided to chill out.  I relaxed my pedal stroke too,  then shifted a couple of gears and relaxed.  Over the next few miles, things changed for the positive.  I was rolling along smoothly, using less effort, and...... having fun. 

Identifying the warning signs of negative thought patterns and negative habits can be difficult,  but once realized, and positive change becomes the focus,  quality of life can improve quickly.

I realized that my pedal stroke was fine,  I had just been trying to push too big of a gear, causing me to put to much effort into the ride. 

As the ride went on,  I continued having fun.  My thoughts turned to the stage race and I started getting excited.  I got home, fired up.   And now, I'm really looking forward to lining up next week with some fast locals, out of towners and apparently some international riders.  I've been needing a break from the daily grind (which is something else I love and sometimes put too much effort into),  and next week is going to be great!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Win An I-9 Wheelset

Good news.  Jaimee is on the mend and able to head back to work.  Her PT even gave her the green light to ride the trainer.   But, the high medical bills are still looming and she could still use some help.  

Industry 9   agreed to donate a standard wheelset, road or mountain,  in order to help raise funds. 

Here is how it will work:
  • If you already donated,  you are automatically entered into the drawing.
  • If you would like to donate (minimum $10.00)  you can do so through the end of September.  
  • I will randomly pick one donor on October 1st.  
  • Donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/JaimeeJohnson

Thanks for helping get  a fellow cyclist back on her feet!   And Thanks to I-9, an awesome company stepping up to help out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On To The Next Race


The Pisgah MTB Stage Race starts a week from today.  I can't wait.  A 5 day race in my own back yard.   Yes, I could ride these trails for free anytime.  But,  can I ride them with old friends from around the world?  Can I meet knew friends, have a fully supported 5 day tour on most of the best trails in Pisgah?  Is there a meal and a live band at the end of the week? 

The economic benefits that a stage race like this (or any of the MTB/Gravel races)  brings to our community would not happen without people like Eric of Pisgah Productions and Todd/Heather of Blue Ridge Adventures.  Starting with the bikes shops, coffee shops and ending at the taverns.  Support the people who support local economy and the sport that brings us together!

This will  be my 6th consecutive year at the race, and I my aspirations are pretty low.  I'm not aiming for the podium,  I'm not worried about my time or placement.  I'm not trying to break any records. 

I am right on track for my year of hitting the reset button.  I'm going to follow that goal and have fun.  I'll still push my limits, but I'll stop for a couple of seconds to soak in the views and enjoy the ride. 

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends as well as meeting new ones: local , foreign and Canadian....only the nice Canadians.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pisgah Monster Cross 2013

Saturday morning, I toed the line for this epic event.  Mike Keeley and a lot of other friends had done it last year, and I was curious to see what it was all about.  I was familiar with the route and was excited to spend a day in the woods with a bunch of friends.

I camped out Friday night, and I'm not sure why this always happens to me, but I was rudely awakened several times by "the loud talker".   Hint:  if it is dark, and past 9pm,  and you are in a designated camping area,  then there are probably people trying to sleep.  If you have the need to talk loudly, late into the night, I recommend pulling out a map, and finding a spot where no one else is,  go there and talk to your heart's content....    Finally at 11:30pm I had lost my patience and told the dude to "Quiet down, people are trying to sleep".  I might start yelling at people more often, because the result was silence, and a good night's sleep.

Saturday rolled around, and thanks to Sycamore Cycle's 7:30am opening, I got a new batterty and sensor magnet just in time for the start.  We rolled out.  Dave Wood had dared me to go hard at the front to string everyone out.  I wanted to, but could not get to the front.  Next time.

I kept my pace in check and rolled along, passing and getting passed.  Same ol, same ol.  I was able to get in with a good group that contained, Patrick, Megan, Charlie, Kip Clyburn and some other folks.  We rolled along trading pulls, chatting and having a good time.  I might have put a little too much effort into this stretch, but I felt good and was flowing.

Up to the Liberty Bikes aid station,  Mark and Norman took care of what I needed and I was off.  Steady pace.   While the temps were not to hot, the humidity was high so I tried to maintain a decent pace while not overheating.  I already had some twinges of cramps for some reason.  Pedaling up Wash Creek Road,  Carey Lowery passed me,  she had punctured a sidewall and was smoothly cranking out the miles.  She was not going that much faster than me,  but fast enough to pull away and disappear by the top of the climb.

Up to the gap and south on the parkway,  I yo yoed with several people, and then bridged up to a group.  The pace was just a little faster than I was able to maintain so I backed off and went my own pace.   At some point, I realized that I had not spent any time training for long, hour plus climbs.  Oops.

On up to the Bike Street rest stop.  Quick refill, a little mouth wash cup of Coke and back on the road.  As I listened to the chatter,  everyone was interestingly in the same boat:  high humidity, can't go hard, lacking power, cramping.  Good to know I was fitting in and normal.    The next section of parkway passed by one pedal stroke at a time.  A beautiful section with huge views that I don't remember seeing.  I can't remember if it was too cloudy, or I was in the pain cave.   Then Megan Archer and Mary Shell Zafino caught me.  I tried to hang on but couldn't.  Dang it,  I couldn't let Megan beat me....

I kept the two ladies in sight all the way down 215 and then up the gravel Indian something or other road.  Then I lost them.  Making the last climb up to Gloucester Gap I was excited.  One last down hill, then pavement to the finish.  At the top,  the skies grew dark and let loose.  Monsoon rains,  puddles and rivers running across the road.  I rolled down,  it was sketchy for reelz.

A  guy on fat tires caught me and we started throwing the proverbial "let's see what you got left" punches.  Then we caught Megan and Mary Shell again.  We all rode together for about a mile and the guy gunned it.  I jumped to his wheel.  We traded pulls.  Each time he pulled he upped the pace.  Each time I pulled,  I slowed, and shook my head.  About 1 mile from the horse stables, he pushed hard,  I held his wheel.  He pulled over and I took the front,  slowing slightly.  At the horse stables, I pulled over and got behind him,  he pulled up the little grunt climb.  Just before the top, I hit the gas and dropped the dude.  A couple of glances back and he was close enough that I kept the heat on til the end.  

I hopped, sort of, over the finishing barriers and crossed the finish line.  Time: 5:19.  Not a bad day!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Liberty Bike THNR

Ol' Kevin Hessler took off on a business trip this week so it was up to me to lead the ride.  I showed up along with 7 other hearty souls.

  I was (am) tired and unmotivated.  The long summer wears me out and I ignore it until my body tells me its time to slow down.  I've spent this week off the bike and it felt like it.

We rolled out under sunny skies and humidity. 

It was not a fast ride, but it definitely was not slow either.  I focused on my pedal stroke, something that I realized I had not been focusing on enough lately.

Halfway through the ride, we could see the large dark cloud crowding the horizon.  It was going to be a race to the end.  Everyone was taking pulls on the front,  not just short ones either.   Impressive.   Everyone also had great bike handling skills.  No sketchiness on the ride tonight.

As we rounded the bend onto Mills Gap Rd, the sky grew dark.  We pushed on, opting to go straight to Sweeten Creek Rd and then right on Sweeten Creek.  I had a white light on the front, so the group consensus was that I pull.  Great,  I hope I didn't go too slow.

Up and down Sweeten Creek,  to the Parkway.  We split up and I rode the rest of the way home alone, in the closing darkness.  Thunder rumbling off in the distance and water still standing on the road from the recently passed storm.  Somehow we had managed to miss the rain.

I think I'm going to retire....except for Pisgah Monster CX.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm Sailing!

It has been over 25 yrs since I left the island paradise, Bonaire, and moved to Charlotte NC.  That was a shocker.  I was 16 yrs old, and moved from a beach front house in the Caribbean to the concrete jungle.  I still dressed the same, and acted the same.  I had never learned to fit in in another culture.  I didn't realize until later in life that I was "different"  than the darker skinned kids around me.  I cried myself to sleep for 6 months and still feel a sad longing for the island and the people. 

While Bonaire is a diver's paradise,  I preferred to spend my time on top of the water,  zipping along in wind powered craft, sailing and windsurfing.   After moving to Charlotte, after a couple of years, I was able to purchase a windsurfer and get out  to Lake Norman when the wind was blowing.   Then I went to college and sold the equipment. 

The next time I was able to sail was on my honeymoon with Rhonda.  We rented an overpriced catamaran for an hour and sailed in light winds.  And that was that.  Every time, I see a sailboat, or a lot of time when I feel the wind, especially on the coast, I am reminded of gliding along the water, waves slapping the hull, halyards slapping the mast, rudder gurgling behind the boat.....

And then, recently a boat came to me.  I was excited at first, the guy said I could take it and fix it up,  send him $100 when I got it figured out and sailed it, see if I liked it.  I got home and did some research.  It was from the Canadian Marine Equipment company that had gone out of business in 2004. 
I started process of figuring things out and it wasn't working.  For the amount of work that needed to be done, it would not be worth the time and effort.  The boat went back to the owner.  Then I posted online in the Asheville Sailing Club forum,  asking for advice on what type of boat is recommended for a family of 3 or 4 to learn to sail.  I got a lot of friendly responses and some great advice, in addition, I got several offers from people who were wanting to sell their boats.  I looked around at a few and decided to wait, save some more money over the winter and buy a complete sailboat, ready to sail in the spring. 

Then I got an e-mail.  A guy had a1947  O'Day Widgeon.  He was the second owner, his dad had been the original owner.  The boat had been in the family since '74 and it was in great shape and ready to sail.  We met and I looked at the boat.  It was perfect.  We struck a deal that was well within my current budget and the rest is "downwind"
I share the excitement of Bob in the popular movie " What About Bob"...... I'm SAILING!