Monday, September 29, 2014

Thanks


Thanks for all of the love!!   This 1st place means a lot to me.  And everyone in my community near and far that helped me get to this has a special place in my heart.  A lot of blood sweat and tears went into this.  A lot of questions, picking coaches brains, driving to get proper bike fit,  good natured heckling from the bike shop staff,  Liberty Bike's THNR,  the wife and kid encouraging me to follow my dreams.
(click each sponsor to view their web-page)
Thanks Siren Bicycles, I-9 Wheels, Suspension Experts, Endless Bike Company, Namrita for the nutrition helpTom Coleman and Eddie O'dea at WN Precision, and Liberty Bicycles for keeping my ride rolling smoothly! 

And of course, thanks to Blue Ridge Adventures  for giving me this opportunity.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stage 5

Stage 5 podium
 We lined up and the competition was ready.  I was tired, so I knew they were tired.  I had the advantage of knowing the route,  knowing their skills versus mine, and knowing where,  if things worked out, I would make my move.

I first attacked on the 2 mile gravel decent to Gloucester Gap.  I got a bit of a lead and settled in to my own pace up the gravel road toward Farlow.  Minutes later, Mike and Dave caught me.  I upped the pace and stuck to Dave's wheel.   I stayed there all the way until the last 1/4 of a mile.  He is strong as an ox,  Mike too,  and their pace was just a little higher than what I wanted,  or should be at so early in the race.

I let them go and continued pushing, past the gate, up, down, around and finally down to Farlow.  I rode cautiously, hoping I would see Mike and Dave on Farlow.  They don't like the wet rocks and roots.  I had prayed for rain, but was not granted my selfish wish!

Making the right turn onto the first rocky section of Farlow, I saw Dave,  walking.  I had ridden part of it, but was now walking as well.  He greeted me, I greeted him, then I put my trail running skills to use and dropped him like a hot potatoe.  I had to get a cushion on him because he can climb.  I was worried that I would not be able to keep his pace on the gravel road to Bracken.

I arrived at the sketchy creek crossing and spotted Mike on the other side of the valley.  I kept pushing.  He would be loving lower Farlow and Daniel's Ridge.  He was also geared a little higher than me so would be able to outpace me on the gravel, but he was also tired.

I enjoyed this section of trail as well.   I hit the gravel end of Daniel's Ridge, motored into the rest stop,   Karlos lubed my chain,  swapped bottles, grabbed a pb&j and rolled out.  The elderly lady that made the sandwiches said "Take two, their small".   I didn't have time.  I just smiled at  her and stepped on the gas.

Stage Race Overall Single Speed Podium.
Davidson River trail went by, right at the Fish Hatchery, then finally climbing.  The first pitch seems to be the steepest, so I pushed my pace up that and then settled in.  A few geared people caught me.  I was feeling good though, so after about 5 minutes, I started reeling people in.  I was focused,  I knew Mike could not be far and I was determined to at least get him in sight before the finish.

About 3/4 of the way up the gravel road that never ends, I caught up to the guy on the geared fat bike.  He mentioned that Mike was just up the road.  I was still feeling good,  pushing my limit for sure.  He offered to trade pulls.  We did for about a mile.   I was able to recover enough to keep going on my own.  Up and around the bend,  there was the wooden post,  signifying that Bracken was in a couple of hundred yards.  Just as I hit the single track, I saw the orange Poc helmet and the yellow leader's jersey.  There was Mike.  He was standing and I could smell weakness.  I stood and punched up the first little grunt climb.  My legs responded.  I was happy.

I caught Mike right at a long sweeping left turn.  He glanced back and said" Aw, S#^t! "  I  smiled and passed him on the inside of the turn.  I said"  Hello, Mike".  Then his single speed attitude showed through and he yelled" GO, Go GO!"    And I did,  like  a scalded cat,  like a bat outta hell,  like a.... well you get it.

My legs were burning.  Punch it, spin it, coast it,  what kind of idiotic maniac was I?  I thought about bike packing.  Then I focused.  Punch it,  coast,  lean, watch out for the acorns.   I glanced back a couple of times.  Pushed the bike up one steeper section, pedaled hard, and finally hit the last steep decent to the Brevard Music Center.

Wrapping around through the lot and follwing the CYMBL course,  I crossed the finish line in 1st place!  WOW.  A lot of whooping, hugs and high fives ensued. 

I have been racing for close to 8 years now, and this is my first time ever being 1st!   It feels good.


















Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stage 4



The day went about as I had hoped.  Still 2nd in single speed, I followed Mike and Dave.  Mike is too strong for me to keep up with, so I decided to stick with Dave and make sure we finish together so I can hold on to 2nd place.   Dave was pushing the pace, even on the hike a bikes but I was fine.  At the top of the first climb he pulled over and had  to tighten a skewer.  I rode on and was able to ride my pace the rest of the day. 

I was a bit fatigued from trying to stay away on stage 3.  I wanted to conserve as much as possible so I could have some fight left for Stage 5.  It was a long hard day through some of the best single track we have. 

I had trouble riding anything moderately techy and did a lot of walking.  But,  I kept moving forward.  I knew that 3rd place was close behind.  If he caught me,  I would be forced to ride his pace again. 

I got to the last 8 mile stretch of gravel and held a steady pace to the end. 

Mike got another 15 minutes or so on me, and I beat Dave by 6 minutes.  Not enough to be comfortable on Stage 5.  I'm stressing myself out a bit. I need to chill and just ride with Dave.   If I can ride the technical stuff today, I might be able to get a lead on both of them once we get to Farlow/Daniel.  But I gotta be patient and not blow up.

Here goes!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stage 3

It feels like a long time ago that we lined up for the 2014 edition of this race.  I'm tired but recovering well and looking forward to tomorrow's big stage that includes Squirrel, Laurel Mountain and Pilot. 

We lined up today and headed down 2 miles of gravel.  My initial plan was to follow Mike and Dave and keep an eye on them.  When I realized that they were not handling the gravel decent well,  slowing in the corners, and knowing that they did not have the experience of riding a trail like Butter Gap,  I turned on the gas and dropped them. 

I hit the single track and climbed like a scared cat and pushed the pace way too high.  After looking back across one little valley,  I didn't see either one and I let off the pressure just a hair.  Out onto the gravel road,  and almost to Davidson River trail, I looked back and saw Mike slowly gaining on me.  I hit the gas again, and held him off for another 30 minutes all the way to the first rest stop.   He kept riding, I stopped to refill.  I glanced at his bike and noticed that he only carried one water bottle...

I got on the road again quickly and assumed my pace.  I had no idea how far back Dave was, but assumed that he would be taking it easy today.  He had taken a hard day yesterday, and I assumed. 

Cove Creek Enduro, Daniel's Ridge and the fire road back to the rest stop.  Topped off the bottle and headed the last 8 or so miles to the finish.  I took my time, chatting with other racers and going an easy pace.  About 4 minutes out of the rest stop,  a racer from Boston, stated that " The guy on the fat bike is not very far back".   Crap!  No more time for chit chat, I hit the gas and got going.  Never assume! 

I made it to the finish without getting caught, but Dave managed to finish about 2 minutes behind me.  I lost another 12 minutes to 1st place so it looks like I won't be able to catch him,  but with over 40 miles of racing left,  anything can happen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stage 2

Game Face
The day started moderately.  I got in the lead group and was quickly caught by Michael, 1st place SS and Dave, 3rd place SS  was right behind me.  The 3 of us wound up and around Thrift Cove heading to Sycamore.  The pace was a little higher than I would have liked, but I decided to hang on until we got back to the pavement. 

Michael bobbled and I took advantage,  putting pressure on the pedals and pulling away.  And then I was on my own.  I decided not to push too hard, but stay steady.  I knew that if I was on the run all day, I would push too hard and blow up,  not what I was going for. 

By the time we completed the short loop, they had reeled me in, passed me, and I let them go.  Had to maintain my pace. 

The day went by fairly uneventfully.  I caught up to Dave at the bottom of Avery Creek.  He had crashed.  I hated to pass him like that,  I made sure he was ok, and motored on.  Once I got on Clawhammer, I saw him through the trees.  I pushed a little harder,  beating him to the line by 7 minutes.  I didn't see Michael again until the finish,  he gained another 15 minutes on me, totally about 25 mins.  A lot of time, but a lot can happen.  I'm not gonna stop fighting!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stage 1




Stage 1 details

Ok,  these are going to be short, because I don't have much time.  Maybe I'll come back later and fill in some more details.

We lined up in 48 degree weather this morning and rode down 6 miles of pavement.  I didn't know what to expect since this was my first time single speeding the stage race.  I decided to keep my pace withing what I knew I could ride.  I rode the first 1/3rd with Joe.  He's just out there riding,  I admire his attitude.   Coming up from Florida,  there is a lot more climbing than he is accustomed to.  He did alright.

I said hey to Jason and rolled on.   I was feeling good, and kept reminding myself not to get caught up in the race,  just to ride my own pace, and enjoy.

The woods are amazing right now.  Fall is definitely in the air,  acorns all over the trail like treacherous little marbles.

My pace paid off.  Halfway down Black Mountain Trail, I passed a single speeder.  This put me in second for the day.  Sweet!  I am sitting about 10 minutes behind first,  and 1 minute ahead of 3rd!

Fun times.   Can't wait to go for another ride tomorrow.

Opening Ceremony

I got to the Brevard Music Center and  checked in,  got some food and  chatted with friends new and old.  We ate, joked and then listened as Todd Branham went over the finer details for what lies ahead: 5 stages, 145 miles and over 20,000 feet of elevation gain.  Sounds like a fun time. 

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I am going single speed this year. 

The I-9 wheels made me do it.

I decided to weigh both of my Sirens and it turns out they are really close to the same weight.  And I've never done this race single speed.  It is, after all, my "year of hitting reset" and I've been having fun with it.  Single speed at Fletcher Flyer, then ORAMM,  why not the Stage Race?  

so, here goes.  Thanks Siren Bicycles, I-9 Wheels, Suspension Experts, and Liberty Bicycles for keeping my ride rolling smoothly! 

And of course, thanks to Blue Ridge Adventures  for giving me this opportunity.

Let's rip!

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.