Friday, September 30, 2011

Stage 4

Today was going to hurt.  39 miles with 8000 ft of climbing would hurt on a road ride, throw in some boulders, roots, stream crossings and black bears and its really gonna hurt.

After dropping the kid off at school, I took of to the start and made it with 20 minutes to spare.  I got changed and lined up.  Knowing that today was going to start with lots of climbing leading to a 45 minute hike a bike, I took it easy.

After 2 hrs I made it to the first rest stop.  At this point, Jason, who was fighting to get 5th back passed me. We yo yoed a couple of times and he finally got a gap and I didn't see him until the finish.

There is so much going through my head right now, the pain, wanting to give up, thinking of bailing out, hanging in there, enjoying the ride,  having a blast, dreading the race etc.  I ran through the whole gammut of emotions today.

But, when I turned onto Clawhammer then to Maxwell,  I knew that I had ridden within my limits today.  I was able to step on the gas and crank up the climb to the last decent.  That felt good.

It felt even better that I beat last year's time by approximately 14 minutes!!   

Tomorrow Stage 5: Transylvania Loop    42 miles  6200 feet of climbing!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stage 3

It was nice only having to drive 20 minutes to the start of today's stage, located in North Mills River.  I addition, the start was scheduled later at 11 am. After dropping the kid off at school, I went back home, had some more coffee, ate some food, then headed out to the race. 

After warming up, I headed over to the start line.  I really wanted to take it easy today, and save it for Friday, but that was not going to happen.  The gun went off, and after the short neutral start, we were back to racing.  I followed wheels up Wash Creek Rd until the turn on Spencer then went my own pace.   There were plenty of people for the climb and at the top before dropping down Spencer Gap, Jason, who is in 6th place behind me, came up and I let him pass.  I didn't see him until the finish. 

The rest of the day was spent going as fast as I could without blowing up.  The temps were cooler today which helped a lot.  Up Middle Fork, down the ripping fast and fun flowing pump track that is Fletcher Creek,  up and down the gravel road to Trace Ridge parking lot.  A quick water re-fill and PB & J and down the sketchy lower Trace.  ( I have a witness who will say that I rode all of it).

Out onto the pavement and tucked into time trial position, it was nice to push a big gear and fly down some pavement, I could have used another mile of that.  Left on Wash Creek Rd, back to the parking lot, then up Trace.

I used to ride up Trace a lot, cleaning 99% of it, but now it is rutted and eroded, and today I walked more than usual, but then rode more than I had planned.  I was simply in the zone and kept the pedals spinning. 

On the climb I reeled in and passed 3 people, one of which was Claire, same as yesterday.  I made it my goal to get down the mountain without her catching me.  I made it to the gate at Wash Creek Road, and she and Keith from I-9 caught me.  I waved Claire around and followed her down the gravel, until she almost went over the hood of a car.... she lost some momentum,  I passed her and pinned it past the left turn, around the gate and up the double track to Bear Branch. I kept listening, thinking she would not be far behind,  bombed the single track (bombed being a relative term) took the left hand 180 to the finish and sprinted to a time of 2:46.  

Jason had finished 4 minutes ahead of me,  meaning that I retain 5th place in Open Men's.   Although, as I told my friend Mike tonight,  I'm finishing the stages faster than last year, and while 5th would be cool,  I'm satisfied with my performance so far! 

Tomorrow will be rough: 
Stage 4
The Promised Land Loop
39 miles, 8,000+ ft of elevation gain!! 

Stage 2

5hrs, 33 minutes- 21 minutes faster than last year.
I felt like I was feeling good, but one never knows until about 5-10 minutes into the ride.   

My friend Rick came out and spared me the scenic trolley ride, giving us a ride to the start at Kuykendal Group Campground.  After finally getting started and splashing through the creek,  I stettled into my own pace,  one that would last for 42 miles.  I took advantage of people nearby, sucking wheels, only feeling a little shame for not taking a pull.  

The 9 mile climb up to Farlow finally ended, and then it was time to descend.  I'm ok at descending but also overly cautious because I really don't want to get hurt.  I get passed quite a bit on the downhills and hit happened again.  My strength is definitely climbing, and it shows when I catch and drop the people who pass me on the downhills.  

I was in a rythym and got down Farlow in one piece, crossing the creek and turning onto Daniel Ridge.  I was surprised that I was riding most of it, kept my pace in check and kept turning the pedals.   Cruising through the forest with leaves changing and the air starting to warm, past the gate, up the gravel road and right on Cove Creek.  At this point I realized that sucking the last drop of water out of a Camelback is a similar sensation to running out of air while deep underwater.  I was totally out of water, and it was warm.  Cove Creek is mostly downhill with a steep climb out of the campground, so I kept a steady pace and got to the next rest stop.

The rest stop staff at this race are stellar and I am making record fast re-fills.  On down Davidson, onto the pavement, left on the gravel road that winds up and around Looking Glass rock, reminded me that I need to bring the wife and kid out here soon.  

I was alone for close to an hour until I made it to the next stop at the bottom of Club Gap.   I got refilled and lubed thanks to David Wood and friends.  I rode up the first steep part of Club, but was fading, so I started walking.  It felt so good to be walking that I ended up walking most of the steeps.  I was going the same speed and using less energy, so I kept going.  Up and over the mountain, past the shelter, into the gap, right on Clawhammer, got passed by Claire from Australia,  then Garnett from Canada.  I managed to hang with Garnett, letting him take the lead on the blazing fast gravel descents.  We ended up riding and chatting all the way up Maxwell, passing Claire and catching up to Chris Baker.  

Once over the top,  I was alone again, relaxing and focusing on the downhill.  For some reason, this downhill seems way shorter than last year.  I was cruising, but it was still moist and slick in spots so I rode conservatively.  

And then I finished.  After checking the results later, I found that I am now in 5th place in Men's Open cat.   Pretty exciting!

Today: The Carl Schenk Loop:  25 miles,  3200 ft elevation gain..... "rest day"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stage 1

I got up before dawn to get things ready for stage one.  The air was cool, but the temps were supposed to get close to 80.  I was excited about my first race of the year, and anxious to get to the start line.  But first, I had to wake the kid up,  get him fed and dressed and off to school on time. 

After dropping him off, I headed out to Brevard and the Black Mountain Trail Head.  It was good to see some old friends riding around.  I didn't have a lot of time so I got changed and ready to roll.  I was feeling ok, but having a little bit of GI issues to start the day.  I'm thinking that last night's trout was still swimming around in there. 

We lined up. Todd announced 2 minutes and about 8 of us darted for the woods to take one last natural break.  Then the gun sounded and we were off.  It was good for the neutral start, but when we hit the gravel, the pace picked up,  several groups quickly formed with a one man breakaway.  I slowly drifted back, knowing that I should not hold that pace.   Once I hit Clawhammer, I pushed my pace, passed and got passed.   After about 20 minutes, I started to overheat.  While it was not hot out, it was very humid, and I simply don't function well in those conditions,  coupled with heat....well,  then I'm just out for a ride. 

I made it up to the gap,  refilled, and cruised down to the river taking the time to recover.  Across the river and over the swinging bridge,  then up squirrel.   I had moments of feeling great and moments of feeling not so great.  I tried to focus on riding smoothly and within my limits.  Then something strange happened.  I started catching people.  We would yo yo back and forth for a while, but then they would fade.  From this point on, only one of the people would ride away from me, and this was coming down Black Mtn,  a steep, techy trail. 

Up the gravel to Yellow Gap, stopping for water and lube.  David Wood did an stellar job of lubing my chain.   I rolled down 1206,  remembering quickly how much climbing I had yet to do.  I didn't see anyone for a while, but then on N Mills River trail, I started passing people again.  Not a lot, but enough to encourage me to keep doing what I was doing. 

Typically at this point in a race, I am the one getting passed by everyone.  It was good to be passing.

At Buckhorn Gap, I again got lubed,  grabbed a pb and j and a Coke, and started up Black Mtn.  Up and up, then down then up,  techy, rooty rocky, passing the marshall with the airhorn, then up, then it was the last down hill.  I kept it in control and kept listening for someone to come up behind me.  They never did and I finished in 5 hrs and 10 minutes.  25 minutes faster than last year! 

A good day in the saddle.

Wednesday: Stage 2  Land of Waterfalls 
43 miles, 7,300+ ft of elevation gain... its gonna be fun!

Packet Pick Up

Dinner was trout, veggies, bread and drink.  It was delish.  A relaxing time with a large group of fit and fast people.  There are no sandbaggers here.  Everyone who signed up has been training for this moment.  I have my work cut out for me.  
I'm gonna keep it fun though; challenge myself, yet enjoy the ride and finish in one piece.  

Today is the White Squirrel Loop. 39 miles,  6200 ft elevation gain. Opening with a long sometimes steep and muddy climb up Clawhammer rd.  

It's time to race....

Monday, September 26, 2011


The weekend went by pretty quickly.  Saturday consisted of helping Asheville CX set-up, manage, and tear down some really fast and hot races. 

Sunday was the planned shakedown cruise of the Siren Rocketship 55 SL.  With knew cables and chain, I was ready to rock.  The cassette however was not ready to rock.  It seemed it was more into skipping.  I had met up with Dawn and told her to go ahead and leave me, because I was not going anywhere fast.  I did figure out that I could ride some of the steady gravel climbs without too much problem, so I still got some time in the saddle.

After the ride, I sat at Starbucks, sipping some coffee until Liberty Bikes opened and I splurged on a new cassette.

Monday will be shakedown cruise #2.

Friday, September 23, 2011


 The last day of summer has arrived.  With the skies overcast, I had a feeling I would be riding alone again.  I was pleasantly surprised when 7 other guys showed up for some fun. 
 We rolled out a held a pretty steady pace. 
I am feeling good and it was good to put in a hard effort with a group before the race next Tuesday.  I feel like I'm recovery faster after sprints and climbs, and with the cool weather, I didn't even think about overheating. 

My goal going into the race is to finish, going my pace, and enjoy the ride. I'm looking forward to a challenge, and pushing my limits. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Sluggish,  I'm feeling quite sluggish lately, and I'm not sure why. 

It was a rainy day, and was supposed to rain all day, so I did my workout on the rollers.  30 minutes into the workout and the sun came out, but by then, my motivation was lacking and I was done...

Maybe I'm working on over training, or maybe its the sluggishness that comes from reduced exercise.   The allergies don't help either. 

Oh well,  I'm spending some time resting, that can't hurt at this point. 

I'm feeling strangely calm with only 5 days to go.  I'm excited but realistic about the possibilities. 

I'll ride on Thursday and see what happens.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It was one of those days of spinning wheels and not getting much done.  Did quite a bit of phone calling and busy work etc, but didn't squeeze in a ride.  I did manage 30 minutes of yoga which was a smart move. With the miles I have ridden over the summer, my whole body is tight. 

I also doubled checked the Rocketship to make sure everything looks good.

Today looks like another rainy day.  I don't really want to get it dirty before race day!!   Haha, I better get out and ride or I'll regret it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hardtimes Rd/ Bent Creek 

The ride today was somewhat mixed with feeling good and feeling tired.  I decided not to be critical of how I felt and just enjoy the ride.  It was chilly enough for arm warmers, and quiet out there.  The leaves are starting to fade and fall.  The sky was dim with a threat of rain that didn't happen until much later. 

I did some intervals and some steady riding, feeling good about where I am and knowing that I have done everything I can to prepare.  It is tempting, to coast for the next 7 days but I know that I need to stay consistent.    I can't wait to get started, but don't want life to pass me by until then!!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Saturday morning I got up early to help a friend with some stuff, leaving me drained and without enough energy to ride.  I met up with the wife and kid at the Folk Art Center for the Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle comp.  I might need to enter that next year....
Later on Saturday, I got to go help a broken friend, Kevin Hessler put his playset together.  

Sunday was the CYMBL race.  The course was  2miles long, and with longer mellower climbs and moderate decents,  the kid found a steady enough pace to wind up in 8th out of 12 kids in his age group.  The start was as chaotic as a world cup race with 25 kids 7-10 yrs old vying for the hole shot.  It was cool to watch,  a whole lot less cussing and yelling going on than at an adult race.  The kids were patient with each other, waiting their turn to get onto the single track and start rolling.  After the kid's race, I spun around with Nolan who was running sweep, in order to get a little time on the bike.

After the race, I went back over to Kevin's house to finish up the play set.  I worked while everybody stood around supervising....I'm going to have to figure out how to get a supervisor position. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


This guy hangs out by the river and blows the horn.

I love it when I get to ride 2 times in one day.  This morning I went for a recovery ride.  I ride from the house, down past Biltmore, to the French Broad River Park.  Then I take the greenway, upriver through Carrier Park, to Hominy Creek Park.  On the way back I usually stop at the track for a couple of laps and a chat with Rostand Smith.  That guy is cool and has lots of stories to tell!!

After the fine recovery on a chilly morning, I made my way home and loaded up the trailer and bikes.   I was excited as I headed to Francine Delaney, a charter school in West Asheville.  I work with a group of 9 guys and teach Bicycle 101.  The guys are totally into it. 
I worked at this school 7 years ago when I was in the child mental health field.  It was great when Buffy, the operations coordinator, who was the teacher in the class I worked in, came out and rode around with the kids.  To see the excitement, not only on the kid's faces, but also on the staff's,  it was amazing.  Buffy was also adamant that we should have a girl's program as well!

I look forward to the possibilities of running similar programs in other schools!

On to the weekend.  The miles will be low to non-existent, depends on  a lot of factors.  We'll see what happens!

Friday, September 16, 2011


I rolled up to Liberty Bicycles for the Thursday night ride.  The skies had been cloudy all day, and there was a threat of rain, only 30% chance....

Only two other guys showed up,  Eric was eating potato chips so he bailed.  We rolled out, and at the turn off of the parkway one guy bailed.  About 10 minutes later, the other guy bailed and I was all alone.   Just me, the wind, the ominous clouds and lots of traffic.  I went  into time trial mode and focused on my form.  I have learned that it is futile to fight the bike and the conditions.  I also learned that when things get tough, if I focus on form,  I go a lot faster that when I focus on going fast.

So, I rode, alone, thinking, pondering, gritting my teeth, spinning.  It was a good ride.  Thankfully, on the parkway I caught up with Dawn, who pulled me the last couple of miles.  It went by too fast and we bid goodbye.

Since the ride starts at 5:30 now, I got home before dark, which was good.

Is the Thursday night ride dead?  I guess I'll find out next week!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


 Today was a scheduled easy recovery day.  Today was also an Erwin Middle Bike Club.  We met up, loaded the bikes and headed to Carrier Park.  The group was eager to go, and after a thorough safety inspection on their respective bicycles, we took a few minutes to discuss the finer points of lubing a chain. 

 When everyone had a clean, quiet chain, thanks for Pro Lube,  we headed up the greenway to Hominy Creek Park, then back down to French Broad River Park,  ending back at the Mellowdrome for a few laps.

Another fun day getting kids on bikes. 

Thursday:  Liberty Bikes Road Ride at 5:30pm,  join us!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I headed out to Bent Creek again for a faster ride with some intervals thrown in. 

I always have trouble eating first thing in the morning and have not found anything that sits well in my stomach.  I have found that I can wait up to a couple of hours before eating in the morning and my system works a lot better, but this method does not work well for races that start early in the morning.  

This morning I tried a couple of scrambled eggs, sprinkled with cheddar cheese.  I choked down 3/4 of it but could not stomach the rest.  And there is sat, in the dark cavern of my belly.  I felt really sluggish and wanted to go back to bed, but I headed to the trailhead anyway.  

Once on the trail, I felt like a pile of moldy rice and wanted to turn back but forced myself to continue.  I started drinking my super secret sports drink, a combo of maltodextrin and nuun.  Interestingly, I started to feel better after about 20 minutes, so continue on my ride.  Up Ingles Field and down Greenslick, up Sidehill, up Bent Creek Gap Road, then back down,  a short trip on Explore Loop, past the lake then Hardtimes Connector and the freaking fun wall rides!  

It was  a great day for a ride, and my body is feeling good.  I'm recovering after attacking the climbs and my down hill skills, while lacking, are improving!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The easy recovery workout had me spinning up north boundary road.  The recent logging there has left a grand view to the west and I was captivated by the clouds forming in the distant valley with the hot air balloon floating gently above the ridge.  The scene was peaceful, calm and somehow reassuring.

My legs are feeling good and there is an inner calm, an slight anticipation.  I try not to think about the race too much, but the excitement creeps in when I least expect it.  Like my pace at the start of a race, I have to slow down, focus on what I am doing right here and now. Focus, so that I can be as prepared as possible when I line up for stage 1.

Added to the challenge of racing is taking care of my family.  With the wife in school, I will be dropping the kid of at his school several mornings before the drive out to Brevard.  A couple of days will see me rolling into the parking area 10 minutes before the start of the race, but that's life.  I'm thankful I get to race again this year. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


 2 weeks and one day to go until the Pisgah MTB Stage Race.  This will be my 3rd year in a row and I am feeling stronger and more prepared than ever.  
Sunday I got out with Chris, Chris and Kristi,  3 expert/pro level mtn bikers who let me tag along.  It was good for me to ride with that group and definitely challenged me to keep working on improving in every area of my riding.  

We set out to ride a modified stage 3 which includes the gnarly climb up Trace Ridge.  This single climb will be a deciding factor in the race.  Sandwiched between 4 other stages, 2 before and 2 after, one must not be fooled by the "only 25 miles" distance of the day.   With roughly 3200 ft of climbing this stage will make you pay attention.

Tomorrow: Monday's recovery ride.