Monday, September 24, 2012


The Stage Race is over and its back to the real world.  It is so nice to be able to step away from daily life and experience something challenging like the stage race.  5 days of racing my mountain bike all over the trails and roads of Pisgah National Forest. 

But, I could not have done this without  a lot of help.  This year, a lot of things happened and I was not sure early on if I would be able to race, but with the help of the local cycling community it worked out.

So a huge shout out to all of my friends who rode with me this year.  Too many to name, you know who you are.  You pushed me, encouraged me, and helped me learn.

  • Blue Ridge Adventures for taking the risk to put on such a grande event.  I'll be out there riding it every year that I can.  
  • Liberty Bikes.  The stellar care and mechanical guidance that I get when I walk in the door is great.  I never have to wonder if my components are going to get me through.  Special thanks to Dave Wood for spending 1.5 hrs with me, overhauling my bike after Stage 1's mudfest.
  • Suspension Experts.  Thanks for heckling me, and overhauling my Reba.  I can also ride out into the middle of the woods and not worry about my fork failing.  When I pick it up, its as good as new.  You guys rock.
  • Motion Makers.  Thanks for helping me get in the shoes that I have used for years, and my feet love: white too!

Of course the wife and kid are a huge part of helping me get out there as well. Thanks to you, I love you!

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stage 5: Heating Up

I analyzed the results from Stage 4 and found that 4th place was 32 minutes up on me.  This is the guy that I had just beat by 9 minutes on Stage 4.  The wheels started turning and from the way he was talking, I might, just might be able to work my way into 4th.  

The day started with  6 miles of pavement before we hit the dirt.  I overheard a couple of conversations about taking it easy for the 6 miles so I took it upon myself to go to the front at the start and ride my pace,  attempting to control 75 mountain bikers.   The plan worked and for the first time since we have done this route,  I was able to ride within my limits. 

We hit the gravel climb at Turkey Pen,  Vineyard, Riverside to Bradley Creek rd.  At this point, Mark, the guy in 4th was with me, but talking about the 9 stitches in his ankle and feeling tired, I thought I should try to pick up the pace and make a go of it.  At one of the creek crossings there was a bottleneck and I took off alone.  I made it about 1/2 mile to Yellow Gap and the rest stop before Mark and friends reeled me back in.  I knew then it was not going to happen.

I was tired, and didn't want to push the pace, but at the same time, I didn't want to lose my 5th place standing.  So, the day was spent at the upper limits of my comfort level.  Temps were rising, causing me to have to slow down, or blow up.  I was walking things that I could have ridden, had it been 10 degrees cooler.  But that's how it goes.

There are so many variables in racing.

Up Laurel, and down Pilot, I didn't ride the whole thing, but I did clean the humvee section with the crowd roaring in my ears!

1206,  a quick stop at the aid station where I picked up a passenger, and on to Club Gap and Avery Creek.   It was getting hotter, and I was keeping a steady pace.  Battling nausea, but forcing myself to eat and drink.  My legs felt surprisingly good and responsive,  this is what I had trained for and I powered on.  Into checkpoint 3 with the family again waiting, I was there less than 20 seconds before I was rolling again,  chasing whoever might be just ahead, around the next bend and running from whoever might be just behind about to pass.

For the first time in this race,  in all 4 years,  I didn't see anyone from rest stop 3 to the finish.  I had it all to myself and I didn't think about anything except maintain a pace, just below overheating.  I hit the hike a bike and kept moving forward.  Over the top, and down the other side,  reminding myself where I was on the mountain and what was left to overcome.  Sometimes that last mile can feel as long as the last 20. 

I pushed it past the finish line, know that seconds count.   Good enough for 5th in my category. 

Pisgah MTB Stage Race # 4 in the books!! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stage 4: Ground Turkey

 I woke up this morning, and that was good.  I was somewhat dreading today's stage because it is pretty technical and does not suit my strengths.  I decided to bide my time and go my pace.  I lined up towards the pack so as not to get caught up in the frantic rush up the mountain.  It was cool when things thinned out, I was able to watch the top 3 women duke it out for a while on the climb up Black.  Then the right turn on Turkey Pen and I got left behind.  Turkey Pen was unevenful and I continued my pace, waiting to get passed by a hoard of people.  I only got passed by a few. 

On to Mullinax and Squirrel Gap.  Squirrel is a fun trail, but I had to take it slow.  It was hot and muggy down in the little coves and I was not feeling great.  I assumed that my race was over, because anytime my heartrate went up,  I started feeling bad.  I kept eating and drinking though, hoping that I would feel better.  Up Horsecove, and down funnel top, I was able to pass about 4 people and held them off while I climbed up to Buckhorn gap, passing a few more.  Up and over Buckwheat, I rode more on the decent than I did last year, cool.  Then came the gravel road down to the horse stables,  no one caught me, cool.  I hit the rest stop hot, and ready to be done.  Got some coke, water, lube and a gel.  The rest stop staff was lightning fast,  20 seconds or less. 
They said there were 3 people a little ways in front of me.  I was feeling good again, and I enjoy a good gravel road climb, so I geared up and started the climb.  I felt good, really good.  I passed two of the 3 and hit the hike a bike at a steady pace.  My goal now was not to get caught coming down Black Mountain.  Jason Luque was not too far behind me, and so were several other fast descenders.  I didn't rail it, and didn't take any chances, just kept it steady, and it paid off.  I hit the finish alone,  4 minutes faster than last year. 

Tomorrow, is the last stage, 40 miles including the Laurel/ Pilot trails.  This is my favorite stage.  We even get 6 miles of pavement to start us off!!

Tomorrow: Stage 5

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stage 3: N Mills Grinder

I pulled into Suspension Experts this morning to ask them to take a look at a scratch on my stanchion.  Less than an hour later, I was pulling out, feeling very confident that my fork will not be failing on me anytime soon.  Turn around is not always lightning fast, but when it is, it is,  and I'm grateful.  All of the stage racers should go by the shop and leave their suspension on the way out of town,  it needs to be overhauled!

I took the parkway to the start in N Mills River and was glad I did.  I rounded a bend on the gravel road and caught sight of a bobcat meandering across in front of me.  Freakin' cool,  the day was already successful.

We lined up and took off.  I decided to hold a fast pace up the first gravel climb and into the single track,  then when we went into the woods, I backed off and settled into my endurance pace which I was able to hold for then entire race.    Up Spencer Branch, down Spencer Gap,  up Middle Fork and a right turn on Neverending road.  I knew from last year and looking at the map that we were supposed to take Fletcher Creek Trail, but when I got there, there was a "Wrong Way" sign and tape further up the road.  I played it safe, thinking that the trail might possibly be impassible.   It turns out it was mis-marked and a lot of people missed out on some really fun trail. 

All the way down neverending road, through Trace Parking and then the loop down through N Mills River Campground, eventually coming back to Trace Ridge Parking area.  I got my water bottled filled with Coke and started the climb.  I was having trouble at this point keeping my head in the game and just focused on walking up stuff I have ridden up before.  I figured with 80 miles left in the week,  it would not hurt to conserve a bit today.  I was also starting to get a little bit overheated, and knew what zone I had to keep it in, so I did.

My friend and competitor from last year, Jason Luque, caught me near the top and I followed him down Spencer Branch to the gravel road where we traded pulls to the finish.   A quick dip in the creek, home by the time the kid got off the bus, White Duck Tacos for dinner, a massage and now its time for bed. 

I placed 5th for today, and am in 5th overall.  I have no idea who the guys in 4th and 6th are which is probably good, I won't keep looking over my shoulder for them. 

Two more days, and 81 miles to go.

The temps are warming up, and with the way I overheat, I decided to pull out a secret weapon:

The Haircut....

Tomorrow, Stage 4!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stage 2: Farlow Creek

  The day dawned bright and clear.  I know because I was at the bus stop, getting the kid to school.  We had a late start today, 11am, so I had time to waste.  Feeling a little stiff, I took a hot bath with some Eucalyptis/Peppermint bath salts.   It was very relaxing.  Then I loaded up and got some food.  I decided to take the parkway to the Cradle of Forestry, for a change of scenery and less traffic.  It took about the same amount of time. 
 The views on the drive up were incredible, the air cool and I took the time to think about life.  It was good.  I got to the Cradle and suited up, then got hungry and remembered that I had stopped for some apple pies.  I ate one and it was tasty.
 We lined up, the gun went off and we sprinted out to the pavement and down the hill.  I got in line about 10 back and drafted.  We hit the first gravel climb and I dropped off the leaders pace and pushed a little bit to stay ahead of traffic before Cove Creek.  The plan worked and there was no traffic jam on the first single track.  I kept my pace steady.   We got to the campground and I passed several people on the steep climb up to Daniel's Ridge before dropping back down to the bridge.   Up and over on doubletrack to Longbranch, left on the gravel to Gloucester Gap the the slog up to Farlow.

At this point I put it in a little gear and went a pace that I knew I could sustain the entire way.  The only people who passed me were fast dudes who had taken a wrong turn...bummed for them.  I rode down most of Farlow until it turned into a creek.  The water flowing down was incredible.  I walked and was ok with that.  In fact, after the race someone commented that I had good hike a bike technique,  cool.

The ride down Farlow was a blast,  I didn't get passed until the bottom and was able to pass 2 people.  I hit the rest stop, got a pb and j and a coke, filled up on water and rolled out.  It was starting to warm up and I didn't want to run out of water.  Up Davidson River Trail with about 8 miles to go, I was feeling good.  Once the climb started, I could feel fatigue and twinges of cramps setting in.  I put my heartrate on autopilot and spun gears that would keep my body temps in check,  pushing a little when I could but mostly maintaining a steady pace.  I didn't see anyone until near the top of the climb,  someone was slowly reeling me in.  I tried to pick up the pace a little bit, but considering how I was feeling, and that we have 3 days left to race, I figured I should not push it.

We had about 1.5 miles left,  a quick downhill onto Hwy 276, then a steep grunt climb that gradually leveled out.  The guy caught me and sprinted past as we hit the pavement ( I found out later he thought that was the finish) but then kept drilling it.  I figured that if he had what it took to keep that pace to the finish, then it was all his.   I kept my pace then noticed that he was slowing.  I picked up my pace a little bit, and he slowed some more.  I reeled him in and he stopped and got off the bike.  I didn't stop, I was racin'...... to the finish.

I found out that I had place 4th in my category, and was elated.  I don't break the top ten very often, much less the top five.   

After hanging out for a little while I took the parkway route to get home.
On the way, I decided to buy a 20lb bag of ice and take an ice bath.  That was freaking cold.....

Click here for my Cycling Dirt Interview
Tomorrow: Stage 3

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stage 1: RainFest

That's me, in my truck,  waiting just a couple more minutes before heading over to the start line.  It was pouring rain.  The rain would let up and then let loose again, off and on for most of the day.  I can't even remember when it was and was not raining,  just that it rained a evidenced by the pint of water that poured out of my frame, when I took the bike to Liberty to assess the damage. 

Todd said some stuff, normal race director stuff, counted down, fired the pistol and we rolled out.  I was in the front,  mainly because when I got to the start line, everybody was huddled under the tent and the line was empty,  I was already wet, so that's where I went.   I was in the top 15 when we hit the first climb and things started to go south.  I was feeling weird, only 20 minutes into the race.  Lots of things went through my head, trying to figure out what it was.   I realized halfway up Clawhammer, as I fought nauseousness and headache, that I was overheating, in the pouring rain.   I had opted to wear a base layer for the day and it along with the humidity was causing me to overheat. 

I peeled it off at Buckhorn Gap and picked up the pace going down the trail to the bridge at Squirrel Gap Trail.   I was able to pass several people and did not get passed. 

Squirrel Gap was brutal,  not the smooth dry singletrack that I had trained on all summer,  it was the smooth slick as snot single track.  I did what I could and kept spinning.  Somewhere around Horsecove, I started losing my rear brake.  I tried to take it easy, with 30 miles left to go. 

Left on Laurel Creek down to Bradley Creek, I started to feel like I was recovering from the first climb.  I kept it steady.  Bradley Creek was high and the color of thick sweet tea, but not as bad as I thought it would be.  

Out of the creek and up Bradley Creek Rd.  I like this climb but something felt off.  I realized at some point that I should raise my seat up a little bit.  It was a bout 3 mm too low and working muscles that are not used to being worked.  That's what happens when you replace components a week before a major race.  But, the trade off to have an upgrade was worth a little trouble. 

A Yellow Gap,  the mechanic confirmed that my headset was crunchy and my rear brakes were soon going to be useless.  I forged on.  Grinding the gravel and passing a handful of people, one dude who said something about a new pedal and the cramped up.  Oops.

Mills River was going off and I was surprised not to see any boaters down there,  Class 3-4 whitewater was there for the taking. 

I road the creek bed of a trail back up to Buckhorn Gap, got a Coke, made a joke, didn't toke,  and started the hike.  I was looking forward to the hike.  No brakes needed.  Up and over Black, down to the gap, up the next hike a bike.   As I started up, I was joined by Jason Luque,  we seem to wind up in this spot at the same time several times during the race, we laughed about it.

Up and over and then the decent.  I quit using the back brake because I didn't want to destroy rotor or pistons.  I relied heavily on the front brake and was able to ride most of the last down hill,  quite a bit slower than normal, but faster than the guys walking down because they had not brakes at all.

Cross the finish line, head to the truck, get changed, go home, eat dinner and the head over to Liberty Bikes for a 1.5 hr clean up session.   Thanks to Dave Wood for the expertise and time.  My bike would not be the same without you!

Stage 2 tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pisgah MTB Stage Race

 Tonight was the opening ceremony.  Some slides, a little race brief, chatting with old friends and new,  good food, good times!   I'm ready to get started though.  After doing a lot of nothing this weekend, I am feeling sluggish and hungry to get on the bike.   With attendance a little low, the Open Men's and Women's Cats are now combined with Pro...I chose to ride in 40 plus before I new that signing up for Open Men would give me a shot for the cash,  a long shot...ok a really,  never mind.  I'm happy with the choice I made. 

 For the second time this year, I was handed the number 87.  Interesting,  what does it mean?  It means I'm going to get wet.  With a 100% chance of rain,  but that really has nothing to do with numbers.   It has to do with mud.  So I dug up a mud flap,   I have never used a mud flap,  tomorrow I'll try it out.

I hope it works.  I wonder if it will keep my white shoes white?   Prolly not.  That's racin.

I hope I sleep tonight.   If not I'll be wet and tired tomorrow...

Let's ride!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One week to go until the next Asheville Cyclocross race.  These guys and girls get community at the grassroots level and keep things simple yet at the same time professional.  They are partially responsible for creating a buzz about cyclocross in the WNC mountains and I was thrilled when they approached me to talk about a partnership.  What that means is that they committed to donating a portion of proceeds to Trips For Kids WNC, simple.

Click the link below and get signed up.  Don’t race CX? Come out and enjoy the family friendly vibe: kids playing, free beer,good music, and always a fun time.   And you can feel good about helping us provide mountain bike outings to youth who would not otherwise have that opportunity.  Kids whose parents don’t have the means to drive them to local trails.  Kids who don’t have the means to purchase top of the line bike, or even functional bikes.  Helmets?  A luxury.

So come on out, bring your bike, cowbell, family, and be prepared to have a good time…… and help get some kids on bikes!!

Friday, September 14, 2012


I'm done, finished.  It has been a fun ride, but its time to switch it up.  I have been riding the Thursday night Liberty Ride since it started up in March.   I have challenged and been challenged.   We have laughed, sweated,  dropped and been dropped.   I'm stronger now thanks to this group of guys and sometimes girls who show up. 

But the past couple of times out, I have found myself losing motivation, and last night, halfway through the ride, I realized that I am tired of it.   So,  I'm going to hang up my Thursday Night Road Ride shoes and get back to the dirt.   Last year, through the winter, we rode CX bikes around Bent Creek on Thursday nights and it was a blast.  More of a social ride than a hammer fest and definitely good for the head. 

Thanks Liberty for hosting another year of great riding.  Thanks Sam and Dave for occasionally joining us.  Thanks Liberty staff for working hard so Kevin could come out and play.  And last but not least, thanks Kevin for poking me in the side of the head when we you signaled the upcoming turns. 

See you in the woods!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Magic Ride

 I got out for a magical morning ride in Bent Creek.  I have been busy lately, busier than I had ever imagined.   I've been making a lot of adjustments lately too.  Rhonda working full time...nights, sleeping all day,  Jubal back in school,  getting the shop up and running means less freedom to roam.  It is an interesting stage in life for me.  A stage full of hope, full of wonder, yet full of fear.  Fear of the unknown, the what ifs.  But I can't let fear stop me, or I give in,  quit.  I accept that the fear is there and continue on in faith, trusting that I, with the support of an entire community, am doing what is right for the good of the community.  That I,  by simply doing, am making this little corner of the world a better place.
 As I rode, I thought about what brings each of us to our unique place in life.  Where we are at any given moment and how we got here.  A series of choices, reactions and visions/dreams, stepping out to do what we love, what we are passionate about.   There are so many negatives that were eventually filled in by positives that have steered me towards being who I am today.

The interesting thing is that I did not plan to be who I am, or where I am. When I went to college,  a long time ago, I had other plans.  Plans that I hoped would be pleasing to then important people in my life.  As time went by, I realized that there was no pleasing those important people, and it was time to live my own life,  the way I wanted to live it.   So, I did.  I jumped at the opportunity to do something I am passionate about.  And while sometimes stressful, and frustrating,  I could not ask for more from life.
I make about $1 below minimum wage, and its ok.  I would rather eat beans and rice for dinner doing something I love, than eat steak every night chasing the proverbial American Dream.   And if I can inspire others to do the same, then its icing on the cake,  chocolate cake!

Ride on.

Friday, September 07, 2012

I waited a long time for this.

3.5 years ago,  Brendan of Siren Bicycles built this frame to my specifications.  At the time, I simply did not have the money to do it right and build the new frame with all new parts.  3.5 yrs later, my dream came true and after working hard at a second job all summer long,  I was able to purchase a complete Shimano XT groupset.  

I even paid extra to have the Liberty Bikes mechanics team, set it up right.  

3.5 yrs later, new breathe is breathed into an old frame.  I'm still working to get the handlebar and stem upgraded, but for now,  I'm  just plain excited.  

 The brakes actually stop the bike when I pull the levers with almost no effort.  When I shift, I don't have to worry about pushing the lever just right so as not to overshift, and sometimes having to "double shift",  shift up two and down one, to get the gear I want.  I'm  so stoked on my new groupset.
Just in time for the Pisgah MTB Stage Race too!!