Monday, April 29, 2013

Spin Tech Training

So a couple of weeks ago, I signed up to do some compu training with Spin Tech.  It was kind of a last minute, "oh crap, Pisgah 111k is in 5 weeks (3 weeks now) where should I pick up my training, because I have been too busy to stay consistent" moment. 

Remind me next year not to do any racing in May, June or July.  Too much going on with Trips For Kids WNC.  Good stuff, just not enough time to train consistently. 

So, I talked with the guys at Spin Tech and they set me up on a 5 week training program. 

The first step was to suffer for 20 minutes to assess my Funtional Threshold Power.  Mine is at 247 Watts.  ( I know, that's top secret info, but like I care if you know what my potential is).

I was given the option of coming into the studio once or twice a week, for a 1 hr 20 minute workout.  The first two weeks, I only made it in 1 time, but the next couple of weeks, with limited time to ride, I might go in twice.

I was surprised at how quickly the time went by.  It really helps having a goal and someone to keep me accountable, as opposed to riding rollers alone at home.  ( financial expense is a good motivator too).  

I have never trained with power before, but I have heard good things about it.  I've looking forward to seeing how I improve over the next couple of weeks!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mike Ride 2013- To Helen Back- Part 2

Getting ready to roll on a frosty morning.
I woke up just after 6 on Sunday morning.  Mike was still sleeping so I snuck out of the room and down to start drinking coffee.  Mike slept in a little longer, we had breakfast and were on the road before 8am. 
The Nacoochee Valley, a special place.
I was excited about riding through one of my favorite places, the Nacoochee Valley.  Native Americans inhabited this area long ago, and I can see why.  You'll have to visit there to understand.  We could see Mt Yonah in the distance.  I spent many days and nights up there rock climbing. 

Indian Mound in the pasture.

Mike drafting and grinning.
The miles went by quickly.  There was not a lot of traffic, and although is was  cold,  the scenery was amazing.  Cows in the pasture, deer, turkey. 
A quick stop at a familiar place.
We were hoping the coffee shop would be open, but it was not.  I spent many evenings here, listening to locals play Celtic music and drinking coffee.

Onward towards Toccoa, I wasn't sure how I would feel.  It has been 16 years since I was last in this town, and I have a lot of memories good and bad.   After the past couple of year of dealing with issues in my past, I was excited about revisiting an area that had brought me so much joy, sadness, success and confusion.
Oatmeal Cream Pies are the junk.
A quick stop at the gas station across from the lake (Toccoa's water source) where I used to catch 2 ft long catfish, and we were heading down the hill and onto the campus of Toccoa Falls College. 
186ft high Toccoa Falls.

After riding around campus, we headed into town to see if one of the houses that I rented a room in was still there.  Sure enough it was, and I asked the seemingly kind man if I could take his picture.  I told him that I used to live there, and he seemed mildly impressed.   The place looked about the same.  I payed $50 per month, sharing a room with Andy Defranza.  Fun times.
My old pad.
Time was ticking so we headed through town and out Prather Bridge Rd, down to South Carolina. Eventually we got on Hwy 76 to take us back to Clemson.  Stopping for lunch in Westminster we came across an old friend and his family: Chip Rouse.
Somewhere on the outskirts of Seneca, we were flagged down by Jamie.  He greeted us, and said that he read my blog, then offered to pay for dinner.   Thanks Jamie!! 
We made it back to Clemson, took a tour of the campus, headed to our cars and parted ways.  160 miles of riding for the weekend, and lots of memories, new and revisited.  It was nice to ride in an area of the country that is slower in pace and has lots of open spaces.

Spring has sprung, get out and enjoy it!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mike Ride 2013: To Helen Back- Part 1

Showing off the 2 versions of the Trips For Kids WNC jersey.
We had planned to leave on Friday for a 3 day trip, but since rain was predicted and it looked like all day rain, we reverted to a 2 day plan.   I met Mike on Saturday morning in Clemson.  I was running a bit late which is unusual for me. 
The first real climb of the day.
We decided to head to Helen Ga, a quaint little German replica, tourist trap town, in the heart of the NW GA foothills.  After about 15 miles of 4 lane hwy, the road narrowed and the traffic lessened.   There are lots of side roads and routes that we could have followed, but with 85 miles of riding the direct route, I had to remind Mike that we did not want to end up with 120 miles for the day.  (well, I kind of did). 
The start of TNGA
One it turned to 2 lane, the ride delivered some climbing, but mostly rolling terrain, with spring popping out all around.  Taking a left of Warwoman road, we saw even less traffic.  Warwoman Rd cuts through a narrow valley with lots of farms along the way.
I had to laugh. Reminded me of my neighborhood.
50 miles into the day, we arrived at Clayton.  We pedaled up onto main st looking for a local cafe to eat in, and found Beans and Vines.  The smoke Gouda pimento cheese sandwich filled me up.  Mike went for the tuna sandwich and wished for a nap. 

After a brief rest, we continued our journey.  We headed up hwy 76 towards Helen.  Winding through hill and valley, exchanging stories, climbing and coasting.   I knew we were close when we passed through the valley below Trey Mt.  Lots of good  memories started coming back from when I lived in Toccoa. 
We stopped by Woody's,  getting there at 5:03pm,  only to find they close at 5pm.  There was a sign out saying he was running shuttle, so we must have just missed him.  Next time!
At the end of a good day of riding, we reached our destination (Mike hooked us up with a hotel room, he preferred not to camp! I didn't complain).  After getting showered and resting for a few minutes, we walked down to eat some pizza, followed by a "real German " biergarden experience.  For dessert, we walked to Betty's, an awesome little grocery store that had homemade bakery products.  We settled for a giant brownie and some local milk. 

Lights out by 9pm.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A's and B's

Sam and Kevin sporting the awesome Liberty kit
We have been trying to get the Thursday Night Liberty Road ride rolling for several weeks now.  With the extended winter and other stuff, it has not gotten off the ground...until tonight. 

We attempted 2 new things, one worked, the other did not. 

We actually split into two groups, A and B.  The B's were to head out first with the A's following after 5 minutes.  I'm pretty sure the A's didn't wait the full 5 minutes because they caught us in the first 5 miles.   I can't blame them though, because when you dangle a carrot in front of someone who has racing in their blood,  the person simply has to chase. 

So then we were together.  Sam and I decided that on the next longish climb we would hold a steady pace and let the A's get ahead of us.  This worked until we all reassembled at the next red light.

We "accidentally" regrouped several times throughout the ride.  The B's formed a steady, rotating paceline, while the A's hammered each other into the ground.   Interestingly,   up until the last hill sprint section, the B group stayed mostly within sight of the A group. 
Me sporting my awesome Foundry kit
It was a fun ride, and I came home tired, but not overly tired.  There will be days when I decide to duke it out with the A's, but know that the B group will offer some solid training, I'm looking forward to riding with the group again. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Big Rides and Little Bears

Lots going on these days.  The Bicycle Thrift Shop is hopping which is great.  I need to figure out a way to have a bike drive like the one Sycamore Cycles did back in December.  Lots of people are coming in and walking out with bikes for themselves or their kids.
 I decided to use my Spot Tracker to gather GPS waypoints of The Pisgah Traverse.  I went out and rode the first 35 ish miles: Kitsuma, Point Lookout trail, Rainbow Rd, Old Toll, Heartbreak and then back up Mill Creek Rd to the truck.  When I got home, I was bummed because the tracker only registered 6 random waypoint.

The ride was great, and reminded me that I need to stay consistent with riding, or I'm going to suffer like a dog during the P111K.  I'm going to finish this year.

 I also got a good ride up to Craggy on the Ratchet after the storms had passed.  Lots of cool cloud formations.  Not too hot, not too cold. 


Yesterday, I didn't have a lot of time so I headed up Elk Mtn.  Such a cool climb to have so close to home.  I drafted some pros from the UHC squad,  oddly, they did not acknowledge my presence.  I root for those guys when I'm at the races, (and on FB) but might have to find a friendly team to root for.  They turned off and I started the climb.

 I was greeted with fog at the top.  Lots of turkeys are out,  saw one tom out there strutting his stuff.  I have been wondering when the bears were going to start waking up.

 As I was cruising down the steep hill just north of the Folk Art Center, I got my answer.  A little 1-2 yr old black bear, standing on a log, looking around.  I was able to get a decent photo too!!  I was pretty excited about that the rest of the day.... still am in fact!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I have begun a run of self therapy.   As with other barriers in my life  I will be searching for answers until I find some sort of resolve. 

I have started asking the wife to drop me off a couple of miles from home, on the Mountains to Sea Trail around sundown.  I start walking, slowly allowing darkness to fall while I am still out in the woods. 

Yesterday I was thinking about a recent post about negative thought patterns and how I was attempting to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.   It took a while but it worked and I spend  a whole lot less time thinking about that negativity in my life. 

I wondered if this mind consuming negativity was the same so I decided to give it a try.  Last night, on my walk home,  I was rewarded with seeing a little mouse, the size of a quarter, and 3 deer.  

I also discovered that if I focus on the immediate surroundings,  about a 10 ft radius,  I was able to handle the fear a lot better.  When I started looking around, farther up the trail or into the woods, my imagination started to run, and stumps would turn into creeps.  So, I spent my time limiting my gaze, and at the same time, focusing on the positive things that were happening.

What was I feeling?  Excited to be seeing a different view of the world.  Why was I out here?  It is a privilege that I don't want to miss because I am sitting at home watching America Idol ( not that I watch that show....).  And I continue to ask myself these questions,   filling my head with positivity.  Because one thing I have found is that negativity and positivity, cannot dwell together in the same place.

I've only been applying the exposure therapy for a  couple of days now, but last night, I had a twinge of confirmation that this will be a successful process.

I'll keep trying.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Ain't Skeerd.....

Ok, really I am.   Of the dark.  Not actually scared of the dark, but what might be in the dark,  waiting to get me.  I'm not scared of the trees groaning, the nocturnal creatures roaming.  The wind blowing through the foliage, the chirp of a cricket or the scamper of a raccoon.   I am fine with these sounds and look forward to them.  But there is a barrier.  When darkness descends like a giant blanket on the land, blotting out the light,  I am gripped with fear. 

As the sun sets and darkness looms, my breathe quickens and my chest tightens.  I strain my eyes to make out what is in my path.  That stump looks like a person.  I tell myself it is only a stump.  I remind myself that there is no one out here, and if there was, they would not want to harm me.....but what if there was.  What if a person were out there, ready to end it all? 

The first time I can remember fearing something in the dark, I was about 6 yrs old.  We had just moved from France, where we had lived for 3 yrs.  We moved into a house that had some sort of evergreen outside the bathroom window.  With no curtain on the window,   I always imagined someone sitting in the tree watching me. 

Sometime during the 3 yrs that I lived there,  I was bullied at school.  The bully threatened me and told me that he drives by my house and watches me. 

When I was 9/10yrs old, we moved to the Caribbean.  A small island called Bonaire.  Inhabited by 20,000 of the nicest people in the world,  I was in paradise.  I hitchhiked with total strangers,  rode my bike to town,  jumped off of the pier with other kids, and generally lived the dream. 

I cannot remember if it was while we were living in the house or after we moved across town that a neighbor was murdered and dragged through our back yard to be dumped out in the woods.  I didn't get many details, only snippets as the adults whispered about the tragedy.   Several other similar tragic events occurred while we were there.  ( between the ages of 10 and 16yrs for me).

I remember riding bikes with friends in the dark and being fine, but when it was time to head home, there was one particular stretch, about 1/2 a mile long that did not have streetlights.  I remember being gripped with fear and "hearing footsteps"  chasing me as I sprinted home.

When I was about 13 yrs old, a friend and I went out into the "wild" open land and set up a tent by a small lake.  We were camping out, about 1 mile from home.   Around 10pm, some birds that sounded like humans started making some shrill laughing sounds.  We both got spooked and bailed, heading to the "safety" of our homes.

Fast forward to ages 16-19, I lived in Charlotte, then moved to Georgia for college, spending quite  a bit of time outside, and doing some solo camping/backpacking.  I struggled every time the sun went down.

I got married and we had several good backpacking trips on the AT and around the Chattanooga  River.  I love waking up in the middle of the woods, seeing the first light of dawn, and the woods coming to life.  It feels great. 

One time we were camped at Graveyard Fields, and a rock hit the outside of our tent.  I thought that I had previously "heard" something out there, but after the rock hit, and our dog went ballistic, I was sure that someone was out there.   Nothing ever came of it, but it was very strange.  

A murderer on the loose in Pisgah, meth labs,  rumors of marijuana crops and armed guards....all feeding the fear. 

And now at 40 years old, as I walk out of my back door and into the yard, that fear grips me.   I peer over my shoulder like someone is coming for me.  Always a person in my imagination, a male, out to get me.   Most of the time,  fears such as these stem from some sort of traumatic experience.  That's why I listed the ones above.  I don't remember  any sort of physical harm or abuse ( other than spankings and strong/stern/angry scolding). 

I write this because after asking around, I find that I am not alone in this.  I know a lot of people who for whatever reason are afraid to be alone in the woods at night.  I am also writing this with the hopes of finding a coping mechanism, so that I can enjoy being out there at night.  I am writing this to let you know, that you are not the only one, as I have felt for a long time.

  It is such a different peaceful world, and I want to be able to enjoy it.   I want to ride my bike out there, into the woods,  find a spot to sleep, crawl into my sleeping bag and fall asleep with out fearing that I am going to die.

I've been told that this is natural, and that I am normal.  But I  disagree.  I am typically able to face my fears and move past them.  This one has proven to be a little bit tougher,  but I'm going to try.  My goal is to go out and camp alone, and rest well. 

Are you afraid of what is in the dark?  Do you find this is a barrier to you?   What coping skills do you use? How have you overcome?

Friday, April 05, 2013

Cold Touring: Things I learned

I have never been that cold for that long.  I have had cold rides of 2-4 hrs before, but never for 10 + hours,  multiple days in a row.  I remember one backpacking trip on the AT that was cold and snowy, but the wind chill was less of a factor due to being in the woods. 

Here are a couple of things I learned
  • Lunch rush hour at the Floyd Subway starts at 11am.  They were friendly but it took a while to get my food.
  • Small town people are very friendly and warm up even more when I remind them that I am not traveling alone, as it appears.  God is with me.  I'm pretty sure I could score a home cooked meal from some of the ladies after that comment. 
  • When it is cold and windy, like in the low 30's with wind chill below 30 degrees,  and there is snow and ice everywhere,  it is hard if not impossible to be comfortably warm.  Things get cold.  I stayed warm enough to know that I was not close to hypothermia,  but with the wind blowing from the right, might right sinus passage clogged up, or went numb, I'm not sure.
  • Jack Links Beef and Cheese:  just the right amount of sodium and flavor.  Before this trip, I wondered if I was getting the sodium that I needed.  After eating one of these mid afternoon, and feeling my body come back to life, I am convinced that I was not getting the sodium that I need.  These will be going with me on my trips henceforth. 

    • The Blue Ridge Parkway is the way to go.  Less traffic, even during peak season, wider roads,  etc.  Except in the winter ( or early spring, when the ridges are snowed under).  
    • I knew this and its how I survived, but layering is key.  A good zipper on the outer layers is important as well.  
    • Christa's in Pineola, on hwy 181 and the parkway, has the best homemade yeast rolls in the world.  Combine them with bacon, egg, cheese, mater and mayo.....boom.  Power food.
    • There is something amazing about being cold for 2.5 days, and dropping down into a valley that is 15-20 degrees warmer.   It simply lifts the spirits in a way that nothing else does.  Peeling off the cumbersome layers and feeling the sun on the skin is amazing.
    • Ride, even when you feel like that opossum on the side of the road,  keep moving forward, eat and drink.  When things are looking grim,  find something, anything positive to focus on.  Things will look up eventually.
    • Make sure the hotel you reserved a room in, is not at the top of the hill.
    • and most of all, enjoy the ride,  it is after all, a ride!!