Thursday, May 26, 2016

Life After DNF

 Got a gravel grind in out at Bent Creek.  Saw a little black bear,  about 100 lbs.  It was alone, but didn't want to snuggle.  Must have recently left momma to make a life for itself. 

 The views are amazing, and the weather perfect. 
This has been one of the best May that I have had in a while.  I backed off of two commitments that I have had in previous years,  opening up some free time (that I promptly filled with bike rides and family time!).   I feel so much more rested and energetic than in years past.  May is no longer my month of mayhem.  Relief.  I guess I'm learning my limits and working on my quality of life!
 I was thinking a little more about the P111K this year and what I learned from my time on the bike and my DNF.  The route has become less ominous and I realized that with a little more focused training and not screwing up my nutrition, that the finish is definitely attainable.  The past couple of year have been rough, as mentioned above, esp during the month of May. 

I actually felt good on the bike up until I started getting too hungry, around mile 45.  That's when I started going into deficit, and making that up is possible but difficult.   Gotta be preemptive with the food!
 My smoker skills are getting pretty good,  I cooked up some mean chicken breasts and some potatoe, corn and onion mix in tin foil, steamed in it's own juices with salt, pepper and butter....

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Long Walk Home

 I dropped the mini van, nicknamed "Deathstart" off at our awesome mechanic and walked home.   The walk took about 2 hrs.   I had planned a bike ride for the morning workout, but this is such a pleasant walk mostly in the woods.  And I have made it somewhat of a tradition. 
 The MST meanders through the Swannanoa river valley and parallels my neighborhood, which makes it easy to get home without crossing any major roads. 
 I can only imagine how fun it will be once the greenway network is rolling!
 The mini van, which we have had for a looong time,  is a 2003 For Windstar with 122K miles on it.   It has been very reliable and for that we are grateful.  But,  over the winter, the transmission started shuddering when shifting.  On our trip to ATL, it got so bad that it seemed like the engine was trying to jump out from under the hood. 

I have been fortunate enough that I have never had an automobile loan.  The van was a gift from Rhonda's grandmother, who was losing her eyesight,  and the truck that I currently drive was a good deal from a family member. 

Before that,  the most I had ever paid for a vehicle was $1200 for a VW Vanagon.  (kicking myself for selling it,  they are going for $5000 and up these days).  My first car was a Buick Century mid sized station wagon,  I paid something like $600 for it. 

It seems that the right type of vehicle always comes into my life at the right time, with the right price tag.  We are patiently waiting and praying to see what the next step will be this time around. 

I'm also getting details on an auto loan.  A good mini van, with low miles and in great condition is gonna cost us some change.  We have been saving, but its gonna be a while.  Maybe we'll drive the Deathstar until it implodes.  That will give us more time to save and look around for that right deal. 
Nothing like a long walk home to clear the head and relax the soul!

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!