Tuesday, May 27, 2014


 Man, I need to find the remote, so I can hit the pause button.  Life feels like intervals right now and I'm finding it hard to catch my breathe and recover.  I'm doing things I love, I can't really complain, but good grief,  can we add a day to the week?  A month to the year?  Yowza.
 May is my month of Mayhem.  Ever single weekend is booked with events of one sort or another,  all requiring multiple 12 plus hour days, and only half of them spent in the saddle.  I spent the past weekend at The Mountain Sports Festival, selling used bikes and gear to raise funds for Trips For Kids WNC.  It was a huge success and I'm worn out.  We went to a friend's church picnic yesterday.  I am normally pretty social but I had no energy to talk about life with anyone....  all my words are used up for the rest of the week for sure!   

 I even tried to take a spin out at Bent Creek and there were people all over.  Wah, freakin' wah,  huh?

Well,  off to get the trailer unloaded and get The Bicycle Thrift Shop up and running again!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thursday Night Ride

The ride went off hot and heavy,  weather wise that is.  Humid and hot, the air was heavy.  Of course there was a strong wind blowing as well.  The A and B group broke up leaving about 20 in the A group.  I knew where I was going to get dropped, and I did.  I simply can't hang on up the little grunt climbs.   I gotta figure out what I need to do to maintain up the steep short grades. 

I was able to get back on after and hang on for most of the rest of the ride.  

I dangled a couple of times but was able to get back on.  Then we hit Hendersonville Rd, and my legs were toast.  I tried, but could not maintain.  So, I dangled. 

Another good ride with some strong riders. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Training

Another good result from the DNF at the P111K is that it got me motivated.  I'm finding time to train where I made excuses before.   I'm signed up for ORAMM and lack of training will not stop me from finishing. 

I squeezed in time to ride the Jerdon Mountain Challenge loop.  I wanted to see how long it would take me at a slow and steady pace.  My legs were tired from the weekend and now riding 3 days in a row.  (wow, I know, 3 days, 3 rides!!). 

So, I headed up Kitsuma, and down the other side,  meandering, cruising.  I saw a lizard scurry off the trail.  The wind was howling as if a storm was blowing in, but there were hardly any clouds.  Temps in the upper 70's, everything was awesome. 

A chipmunk scurried across the trail and I greeted him,  he didn't respond.  I went around a bend and down and there 15 yrds in front of me, trotting along the trail was a full sized coyote.  That really made my day and made me smile.   It ran in front of me for about 40 yards then darted up through the rhododendron. 

I made my way slowly up the pavement to Lower Heartbreak then up and over Star Gap.  Onto Jarret's Creek Rd, I was still feeling good and I was maintaining my slow and steady pace. 

The gravel road was fast and it took a bit longer than I remembered, but I finally got to Curtis Creek.  Only the pavement grind remained, with the last climb up Point Lookout Trail.  At the bottom of the trail I came across some motorcycle tourists, who thought Old 70 would be open to ride.  I directed them to Mill Creek Rd and then headed up.  My legs were dead tired.  It was getting warm now, mid 80's and the wind was still howling.  I spun my way up and was glad to see the truck. 

Exactly 3 hrs.  That's what it used to take me on my training rides 4 yrs ago, the last time I attempted ORAMM.   That's good to know. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


 I spent Sunday after the P111K laying around.  I took the wife and kid to see Bears at the theater, then then came home and watched Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader.   We had watched The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on Friday night, so it was a Narnia kind of weekend.  The kid and I had spent the past year, reading The Chronicles of Narnia Series together.   If you have not read it, you should.  Good Stuff.  
 I've been out on the bike seeing how my body is recovering and I am pleased that I feel fine.  I think if I had pushed to the finish, beyond my limit, I would not have recovered so quickly.   I rode up to Bent Creek gap the other day and Wash Creek Rd is still closed.   I was told that the plan is to reopen at the end of May,  hopefully that is still the case. 

The kid's birthday was this week, so I spent the day painting a mural in his room.  He wanted Indy Cars so that's what he got.  I was going to just to some silhouettes, but then got carried away.  Then I found some glow in the dark paint.  The faint spots you can see in the sky is that paint, so when the lights go out, the start appear!  I also outlined the Jordon silhouette so it shows up in the dark. 
 Fun times!    There is still some blank space on the wall, so I plan on filling in a little more, but for the most part, it is complete. 
The Used Gear Sale is happening this weekend at The Mountain Sports Festival.  If you are in the area, come see me!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Upside of a DNF

DNF= Did Not Finish. 

I finally signed up for the Pisgah Productions P111K  one week before the start.  Knowing that my training has been lax and non structured, with my longest ride since February a mere 2.04hrs,   I knew that the likelihood of finishing this beast was slim to none.

I played mind games all week and forced myself to the start line.  If I could get to the start, I told myself,  that would mean part of the mental battle was won. 

Carey Lowery found me in the parking lot before the race started and gave me this note with some goodies!  It appeared to be a good start to the day.  I'd have some yummy treats waiting for me, no matter the outcome!

90 racers lined up and started,  I held back and found my all day pace.  I was pedaling fine, but the mind games continued.   Every minute that passed brought new questions and doubts.  Why am I doing this?  I could be at home.  There is no way that I should be out here with my lack of training.... and so on, all the way up Clawhammer, then up and over Black Mountain to Turkey Pen.

Looking around, I took in the beauty,  I tried to enjoy it,  but simply was not.   Even the view at the top of Black, which usually causes my spirits to soar, only brought about a mediocre response. 

Left on Turkey Pen,  a dreaded trail in these parts, and I pretended to rip the first down hill.  At the first hike a bike, Laura Goetz caught up to me.  Cool, company.  I vented a bit to her, trying not to sound negative, but glad to have a sounding board.  Her advice was to keep on going forward,  that it was impossible to make a judgement call at this point in a long race.  I chewed on that and miraculously the cloud lifted from my head.  I made the Yellow Gap rest stop my goal.  I would get there and see how I was feeling.

I actually enjoyed the rest of Turkey Pen.  Despite lacking long hours on the bike, I have spent most of that time on the mountain bike, and I could tell that my skills were more solid than in previous years.

I rolled into rest stop #1 feeling good.  The Motion Maker peeps were there doing a stellar job.  Happy Birthday Kent!   I refilled, grabbed my salami and cheese sammy and ate it on the down hill to the river.  I should have saved it, because that downhill is fun,  but.....

Across the river, through the woods, up Mullinax, Squirrel, Laurel Creek, 5015 up to Yellow Gap and greeted by Sam White, the wife and kid!  Nice.  I was feeling good but still pessimistic about finishing.  I only had 22 miles at this point and was roughly 4 hrs into the race.  I knew the reality of what another 40 miles could feel like.  Pete and Mark hooked me up at the Liberty Bikes aid station before I headed up Laurel to Pilot.

Zeke showed up and had some encouraging words for me, and then I started the climb.  I was still having fun and determined to make rest stop #3 and reassess how I felt.  

The climb up Laurel was uneventful,  eating, drinking, pedaling, hiking etc.  I made it to the top, had a snack and then started to descend.  Maybe I'd enjoy this trail more on full suspension, but I simply don't like it.  I tried to like it, and felt that I was picking better lines than usual, but ugh,  its a beast, and I was glad to get to the bottom. 

Left on 1206, left on Slate Rock Pilot Cove loop (clockwise).  This loop is has no flow and includes a lot of hike a bike.  I was still feeling good and hopeful about continuing.  I chatted and yo yo'ed with Melissa for a bit over the next hour.  I finally got back to 1206 and took a right.  It was then that fatigue started to set in.  I slowed way down, ate some, drank.  I could feel my body shutting down,  then came the nauseousness, and that was it.  I slowed some more,  asked Tom if he had some Coke.  He didn't so I soft pedaled to 479. 

I was at a crossroads.  I was done.  Could I recover?  I didn't think so, but the only way to find out was to keep riding to aid station #3 refuel and keep riding.  If I kept riding and didn't recover, I would be deeper into the woulds and rescue would take time and resources.  If I pulled the plug, I could get to Hwy 276 and soft pedal to the finish.  Then the mental game got real.  If I quit, what does that tell my kid?   Just the other day he talked about quitting track and field, " because it is boring".  Quitting here was different though,  possibly a matter of survival. 

I started heading down 479 to rest stop #3.  I had been out for over hrs.  That was a long time.  Did I really think I would recover and be able to finish the Black-Buckhorn-Avery-Clawhammer-Maxwell-Black loop?  Ugh,  no way I had enough left to do that.  My tank was empty and I knew it.  I had discovered how far I could go with little training.  I had pushed myself and overcome the voices in my head.  It was time to quit. 

I headed out 1206 and down 276,  chilled I stopped to put on my rain jacket.  My head was quiet on the ride back.  I was comfortable with my decision, not pleased but comfortable.  Better than laying on the side of the trail waiting for rescue though.  I was also bummed to miss the friends at the Industry Nine rest stop. 

Back at the start finish, I chatted with friends and fellow racers,  had a burrito and a coke, and did the walk of shame to the timing tent to announce my DNF. Before loading up and  heading home,  Eric Wever, head honcho of Pisgah Productions wrote a check for $650.00 to Trips For Kids WNC.   Money raised from I-9 product raffles at the races this year.  That was an amazing surprise,  we are gearing up for a big spring/summer full of rides with kids and this will help fill in some gaps!  Thanks I-9, Pisgah Productions and everyone who took a chance!!

Driving home, I had the time to reflect on our cycling community, local more widespread, and all of the contributions that people have made over the year.  I appreciate each one!

And to top off the day,  I had that banana nut bread to nibble on on the way home,  it really hit the spot!

Friday, May 16, 2014

What Have I Done?

First things first.  Happy Anniversary to the wife.   16yrs ago today, I cut my hair at the in-laws request and married their daughter,  made her my wife and life partner,   took her on a wild ride, got her an education and sent her off to work, so I could ride my bike!


Then, I finally signed up for the P111K,  and now I realize that I have lost my confidence.  That confidence that comes with riding consistently. The confidence that comes with doing a couple of longer training rides before a big event. 
I keep thinking about the race as a bikepacking trip. If I had everything I needed to survive on my bike, I would not be so worried,  I could just stop and take a nap or spend the night.  No worries there.   But, in XC Endurance,  in order to maintain some speed, it is impossible to carry much of a load.  My biggest concern is not knowing what will be available at the rest stops.  What kind of food?  Can I carry a sub sandwich without worrying about the meat going bad?  What kind of meat won't go bad over 12  hrs?

I'm not so worried about water,  the temps are going to be 40-60 degrees with a  chance of afternoon rain.  I'll have two bottles on the bike and my 30oz Camelbak on my back,  and some Nuun in my pocket.  Knee warmers, arm warmers, baselayer and jacket should take care of the weather.

So, yeah,  I'm a bit hesitant,   and a lot skeerd.  My plan is to ride at a bikepacking pace, take in the scenery and smell the roses.  No racing or I'll end up DNF for sure.  We'll see what happens.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Thursday Night

Tony Zaffino grins....

 We rolled out tonight, a group of about 25.  It was great to see Cara Applegate and Jane Burlew mixing it up.  I don't mind being schooled by a couple of fast women.

The group was riding a moderate pace,  I would be able to hang on if this kept up.

The wind was blowing clouds of pollen and I felt as if I had pink eye.  Itchy, scratchy chunks of the stuff.  But if that was the worst thing that happened, I have nothing to complain about.  Blue skies, temps in the low 80's and bikes!!  It was a great evening for a ride.

I managed to hang on up the grunt climb on Ledbetter to Glenn Bridge Rd where we slowed to an almost stop at the 4 way.  We made the turn and as a group pedaled up the road.  Suddenly a dude in a full sized pick up truck hit the gas and passed all of us,  definitely exceeding the speed limit, over a double yellow on a blind curve.    Wow,  we made comments as usual.  Then the unexpected happened.

We heard the "Woop Woop" of a law enforcement vehicle and a Buncombe County Sherrif's Deputy passed us, lights flashing in hot pursuit.  I let out a yell of encouragement and pumped my fist in the air.  We saw the guy up the road, pulled over.  Thanks Buncombe County Sherrif's Dept for taking care of us!! 

The rest of the ride was a mix of high speed and recovery pace. The Youngblood Bikes team spent some time on the front upping the pace.  Tay Little always does a pull or two (or more, I'm not really counting).  I spent  a little bit of time on the front.  Kevin Hessler complemented me on that and it made me happy.  I always like to contribute if I can.   I don't understand how some people can suck wheels all day.  Are they doing it on purpose?  Or do they simply not know that they are welcome to take a turn at the front?  Don't know.  I would rather do my part and get dropped than to never go to the front. Not a big deal really,  just a thought.

It was another great night of riding,  great to see familiar faces and some new ones.  Can't wait until next week!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Kitsuma for Breakfast

 I got out for a short Kitsuma/Star Gap ride in the morning.  The forest lush, and the temps not yet hot.  Pretty much perfect conditions.  Fun ride!  I wanted to keep going and do the whole Jerdon Mtn loop, but I didn't bring enough food with me.  I think I could have made it, but that last climb from Old Fort up the greenway would have been rough. 
 This was encouraging.  It is always a good sign to be wanting more and feeling like riding more on top of that.  I'll have to save it for another day.  Too much going on still.  I do feel a long ride coming up in the next couple of months.  Time for some saddle time without the pressure of getting back home to get stuff done.
This is an amazing place we live in, and I don't aim to take it for granted!

Monday, May 05, 2014

PMBAR Weekend

 This is the 3rd year in a row that I have had the opportunity to be a part of PMBAR.  I signed up as a volunteer to police FS Rd 5015,  a road that is off limits.  But decided that serving grilled cheese sammies and Coke while busting people would be more fun.  I'm out there from 8am until 8pm.  This year, the first riders: Sam Evans and Dave Wood came through at 11:15 am ish.  The last riders through:  Mike Pierce and partner,  got there as I was about to leave  7:57pm.  Randy Tuttle had come through about 20 minutes earlier and let me know that Mike and co.  were on their way. 

 After spending the day with my mountain biking family, Sunday was dedicated to my family.  Sunday morning we rented a tiller and tilled up the garden and started planting. 

When we got done with that, we headed into the woods to enjoy the beauty.
 Just a short hike and we found the perfect place by the creek to hang out. 
 We caught some salamanders.
 Caught a crawdad.
 And climbed some trees!
Ice cream on the way home and homemade tacos for dinner,  another awesome weekend!

Friday, May 02, 2014


The whole group rolled out together again.  There must have been 25-30 of us.  Suddenly, a late arrival pulled up.  Sam and I and another guy waited while the group rolled on.  Kevin held the group back and we caught on just before we dropped down the parkway for the climb up the the I-26 bridge.  We held a steady pace up the climb.  I enjoyed the scenery and wondered if someone would attack.  No one did.  Down the other side, and onto 191,  the group barely stopped.  

Well, here goes.  Still holding a steady but high pace.  Winding up along the river,  I was feeling tired.  It had been a busy day,  a good day though,  I got a lot accomplished.

My goal again was to simply hang with the group as long as I could. 

As usual,  I got dropped on the first steep grunt climb.  I'm going to have to work on that,  not sure how though.  The group was bigger so a couple of others got dropped as well and we motored on, catching the group at the stoplight. 

And that  is how the ride went for me.  Hang with the group,  fall off the back, dangle,  catch back on.  I didn't really get dropped hard until the end of the ride.  I quit trying to ride that pace,  the legs simply would not give any more. 

Fortunately for me, about 5 other were also off the back.  When we turned onto Hendersonville Rd,  to head home, the head wind was horrendous.  It felt like it was blowing about 20mph.  We ground our way back and each headed to our own destinations.

Another day, another ride.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Single Speedn'

 I did a big loop out at Bent Creek.  Grinding the gravel roads on the single speed.   I have backed off my SS time and it appears to be making a difference.  My legs are definitely feeling fresher (not faster yet) on a daily basis. 

The was a slight chill in the thick humid air.  Everthing was soaked from the past several days of rainstorms.  The forest canopy is coming in nicely and the leaves are bright green.  I theorized as I rode that the shade and coolness of the forest would be noticeably different than past years, due to the healthier and thicker canopy.  Just a theory,  it would be nice if were cooler at ORAMM!
At some point during the ride, I began to focus more on body position than on going forward.  After working on this for a while,  it seemed that I started to work with the bike instead of pushing the bike.  I love that feeling when everything clicks.   That feeling where it is time to turn and head back to the parking lot, but I feel like I could take one more trail,  stay out just a little longer.   And today that is just what I did.  I stayed out, just a little longer. 

I've been trying to decide if I should enter the P111K or the P55K,  I know which one I want to do,  just not sure I'm ready for that many miles.  I can always bail, but I don't like to plan for a DNF.  At the same time, it has been a while since I took on a challenge that I was not sure I was going to finish.   Spending all day in the woods with friends might just be what I need. 

Either way, it will be  a fun time!!