Monday, September 29, 2014


Thanks for all of the love!!   This 1st place means a lot to me.  And everyone in my community near and far that helped me get to this has a special place in my heart.  A lot of blood sweat and tears went into this.  A lot of questions, picking coaches brains, driving to get proper bike fit,  good natured heckling from the bike shop staff,  Liberty Bike's THNR,  the wife and kid encouraging me to follow my dreams.
(click each sponsor to view their web-page)
Thanks Siren Bicycles, I-9 Wheels, Suspension Experts, Endless Bike Company, Namrita for the nutrition helpTom Coleman and Eddie O'dea at WN Precision, and Liberty Bicycles for keeping my ride rolling smoothly! 

And of course, thanks to Blue Ridge Adventures  for giving me this opportunity.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stage 5

Stage 5 podium
 We lined up and the competition was ready.  I was tired, so I knew they were tired.  I had the advantage of knowing the route,  knowing their skills versus mine, and knowing where,  if things worked out, I would make my move.

I first attacked on the 2 mile gravel decent to Gloucester Gap.  I got a bit of a lead and settled in to my own pace up the gravel road toward Farlow.  Minutes later, Mike and Dave caught me.  I upped the pace and stuck to Dave's wheel.   I stayed there all the way until the last 1/4 of a mile.  He is strong as an ox,  Mike too,  and their pace was just a little higher than what I wanted,  or should be at so early in the race.

I let them go and continued pushing, past the gate, up, down, around and finally down to Farlow.  I rode cautiously, hoping I would see Mike and Dave on Farlow.  They don't like the wet rocks and roots.  I had prayed for rain, but was not granted my selfish wish!

Making the right turn onto the first rocky section of Farlow, I saw Dave,  walking.  I had ridden part of it, but was now walking as well.  He greeted me, I greeted him, then I put my trail running skills to use and dropped him like a hot potatoe.  I had to get a cushion on him because he can climb.  I was worried that I would not be able to keep his pace on the gravel road to Bracken.

I arrived at the sketchy creek crossing and spotted Mike on the other side of the valley.  I kept pushing.  He would be loving lower Farlow and Daniel's Ridge.  He was also geared a little higher than me so would be able to outpace me on the gravel, but he was also tired.

I enjoyed this section of trail as well.   I hit the gravel end of Daniel's Ridge, motored into the rest stop,   Karlos lubed my chain,  swapped bottles, grabbed a pb&j and rolled out.  The elderly lady that made the sandwiches said "Take two, their small".   I didn't have time.  I just smiled at  her and stepped on the gas.

Stage Race Overall Single Speed Podium.
Davidson River trail went by, right at the Fish Hatchery, then finally climbing.  The first pitch seems to be the steepest, so I pushed my pace up that and then settled in.  A few geared people caught me.  I was feeling good though, so after about 5 minutes, I started reeling people in.  I was focused,  I knew Mike could not be far and I was determined to at least get him in sight before the finish.

About 3/4 of the way up the gravel road that never ends, I caught up to the guy on the geared fat bike.  He mentioned that Mike was just up the road.  I was still feeling good,  pushing my limit for sure.  He offered to trade pulls.  We did for about a mile.   I was able to recover enough to keep going on my own.  Up and around the bend,  there was the wooden post,  signifying that Bracken was in a couple of hundred yards.  Just as I hit the single track, I saw the orange Poc helmet and the yellow leader's jersey.  There was Mike.  He was standing and I could smell weakness.  I stood and punched up the first little grunt climb.  My legs responded.  I was happy.

I caught Mike right at a long sweeping left turn.  He glanced back and said" Aw, S#^t! "  I  smiled and passed him on the inside of the turn.  I said"  Hello, Mike".  Then his single speed attitude showed through and he yelled" GO, Go GO!"    And I did,  like  a scalded cat,  like a bat outta hell,  like a.... well you get it.

My legs were burning.  Punch it, spin it, coast it,  what kind of idiotic maniac was I?  I thought about bike packing.  Then I focused.  Punch it,  coast,  lean, watch out for the acorns.   I glanced back a couple of times.  Pushed the bike up one steeper section, pedaled hard, and finally hit the last steep decent to the Brevard Music Center.

Wrapping around through the lot and follwing the CYMBL course,  I crossed the finish line in 1st place!  WOW.  A lot of whooping, hugs and high fives ensued. 

I have been racing for close to 8 years now, and this is my first time ever being 1st!   It feels good.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stage 4

The day went about as I had hoped.  Still 2nd in single speed, I followed Mike and Dave.  Mike is too strong for me to keep up with, so I decided to stick with Dave and make sure we finish together so I can hold on to 2nd place.   Dave was pushing the pace, even on the hike a bikes but I was fine.  At the top of the first climb he pulled over and had  to tighten a skewer.  I rode on and was able to ride my pace the rest of the day. 

I was a bit fatigued from trying to stay away on stage 3.  I wanted to conserve as much as possible so I could have some fight left for Stage 5.  It was a long hard day through some of the best single track we have. 

I had trouble riding anything moderately techy and did a lot of walking.  But,  I kept moving forward.  I knew that 3rd place was close behind.  If he caught me,  I would be forced to ride his pace again. 

I got to the last 8 mile stretch of gravel and held a steady pace to the end. 

Mike got another 15 minutes or so on me, and I beat Dave by 6 minutes.  Not enough to be comfortable on Stage 5.  I'm stressing myself out a bit. I need to chill and just ride with Dave.   If I can ride the technical stuff today, I might be able to get a lead on both of them once we get to Farlow/Daniel.  But I gotta be patient and not blow up.

Here goes!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stage 3

It feels like a long time ago that we lined up for the 2014 edition of this race.  I'm tired but recovering well and looking forward to tomorrow's big stage that includes Squirrel, Laurel Mountain and Pilot. 

We lined up today and headed down 2 miles of gravel.  My initial plan was to follow Mike and Dave and keep an eye on them.  When I realized that they were not handling the gravel decent well,  slowing in the corners, and knowing that they did not have the experience of riding a trail like Butter Gap,  I turned on the gas and dropped them. 

I hit the single track and climbed like a scared cat and pushed the pace way too high.  After looking back across one little valley,  I didn't see either one and I let off the pressure just a hair.  Out onto the gravel road,  and almost to Davidson River trail, I looked back and saw Mike slowly gaining on me.  I hit the gas again, and held him off for another 30 minutes all the way to the first rest stop.   He kept riding, I stopped to refill.  I glanced at his bike and noticed that he only carried one water bottle...

I got on the road again quickly and assumed my pace.  I had no idea how far back Dave was, but assumed that he would be taking it easy today.  He had taken a hard day yesterday, and I assumed. 

Cove Creek Enduro, Daniel's Ridge and the fire road back to the rest stop.  Topped off the bottle and headed the last 8 or so miles to the finish.  I took my time, chatting with other racers and going an easy pace.  About 4 minutes out of the rest stop,  a racer from Boston, stated that " The guy on the fat bike is not very far back".   Crap!  No more time for chit chat, I hit the gas and got going.  Never assume! 

I made it to the finish without getting caught, but Dave managed to finish about 2 minutes behind me.  I lost another 12 minutes to 1st place so it looks like I won't be able to catch him,  but with over 40 miles of racing left,  anything can happen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stage 2

Game Face
The day started moderately.  I got in the lead group and was quickly caught by Michael, 1st place SS and Dave, 3rd place SS  was right behind me.  The 3 of us wound up and around Thrift Cove heading to Sycamore.  The pace was a little higher than I would have liked, but I decided to hang on until we got back to the pavement. 

Michael bobbled and I took advantage,  putting pressure on the pedals and pulling away.  And then I was on my own.  I decided not to push too hard, but stay steady.  I knew that if I was on the run all day, I would push too hard and blow up,  not what I was going for. 

By the time we completed the short loop, they had reeled me in, passed me, and I let them go.  Had to maintain my pace. 

The day went by fairly uneventfully.  I caught up to Dave at the bottom of Avery Creek.  He had crashed.  I hated to pass him like that,  I made sure he was ok, and motored on.  Once I got on Clawhammer, I saw him through the trees.  I pushed a little harder,  beating him to the line by 7 minutes.  I didn't see Michael again until the finish,  he gained another 15 minutes on me, totally about 25 mins.  A lot of time, but a lot can happen.  I'm not gonna stop fighting!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stage 1

Stage 1 details

Ok,  these are going to be short, because I don't have much time.  Maybe I'll come back later and fill in some more details.

We lined up in 48 degree weather this morning and rode down 6 miles of pavement.  I didn't know what to expect since this was my first time single speeding the stage race.  I decided to keep my pace withing what I knew I could ride.  I rode the first 1/3rd with Joe.  He's just out there riding,  I admire his attitude.   Coming up from Florida,  there is a lot more climbing than he is accustomed to.  He did alright.

I said hey to Jason and rolled on.   I was feeling good, and kept reminding myself not to get caught up in the race,  just to ride my own pace, and enjoy.

The woods are amazing right now.  Fall is definitely in the air,  acorns all over the trail like treacherous little marbles.

My pace paid off.  Halfway down Black Mountain Trail, I passed a single speeder.  This put me in second for the day.  Sweet!  I am sitting about 10 minutes behind first,  and 1 minute ahead of 3rd!

Fun times.   Can't wait to go for another ride tomorrow.

Opening Ceremony

I got to the Brevard Music Center and  checked in,  got some food and  chatted with friends new and old.  We ate, joked and then listened as Todd Branham went over the finer details for what lies ahead: 5 stages, 145 miles and over 20,000 feet of elevation gain.  Sounds like a fun time. 

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I am going single speed this year. 

The I-9 wheels made me do it.

I decided to weigh both of my Sirens and it turns out they are really close to the same weight.  And I've never done this race single speed.  It is, after all, my "year of hitting reset" and I've been having fun with it.  Single speed at Fletcher Flyer, then ORAMM,  why not the Stage Race?  

so, here goes.  Thanks Siren Bicycles, I-9 Wheels, Suspension Experts, and Liberty Bicycles for keeping my ride rolling smoothly! 

And of course, thanks to Blue Ridge Adventures  for giving me this opportunity.

Let's rip!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Stage Race

Its that time again.  The Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race is here.  My head is back in the game and my legs are feeling decent.  My goal this year,  to have fun and finish.   Ok,  I'm gonna give it everything I have, but I'm not going to stress about it. 

I haven't trained specifically enough for this race, but I am coaching my kid's soccer team.  And I spent the afternoon teaching him how to sail, why the wife slept so she could work the night shift.  Then I took the kid to the park and helped him work on his soccer skills..... the "distractions" go on. 

It is a good trade off, one I don't regret at all. 

I'm excited about meeting a bunch of new people and hanging out with old ones: 

  "We are excited to have racers join us from all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand and St Maarten.  We've also got folks coming from 19 different states including as far away as Washington, Oregon, Michigan, California, and Colorado! "

This will be the 6th annual Stage Race.  Each one has been a little bit different.  My total finishing time in 2012 was 24 hrs.  Last year it was 14 hrs.  The courses have been shortened a little bit!

5 days, 140 miles, 20,000+ ft of elevation gain

Looks like a fun time.


Friday, September 19, 2014


I've been tired,  dragging,  unmotivated.  Part of me was even dreading Pisgah Monster Cross last week and now Pisgah MTB Stage Race next week.   Trying to rest, taking time off the bike helped a little. 

When Thursday rolled around, I decided to go on one last THRN with Liberty Bikes.  Kevin, Jonathon, Shota and Mark (?) showed up.   We rolled out at 5:30pm,  early because of the impending sunset.  I made sure I focused on my pedal stroke.  I had realized before Monster CX that I had let my pedaling technique slip.  Quite possibly the reason that I had cramped up on the last two THNRs. 

At some point during the ride, Kevin and I had a quick talk about my perspective.  I realized that it was a strong possibility that I was psyching myself out with negative thought trains.  He agreed.  I decided to chill out.  I relaxed my pedal stroke too,  then shifted a couple of gears and relaxed.  Over the next few miles, things changed for the positive.  I was rolling along smoothly, using less effort, and...... having fun. 

Identifying the warning signs of negative thought patterns and negative habits can be difficult,  but once realized, and positive change becomes the focus,  quality of life can improve quickly.

I realized that my pedal stroke was fine,  I had just been trying to push too big of a gear, causing me to put to much effort into the ride. 

As the ride went on,  I continued having fun.  My thoughts turned to the stage race and I started getting excited.  I got home, fired up.   And now, I'm really looking forward to lining up next week with some fast locals, out of towners and apparently some international riders.  I've been needing a break from the daily grind (which is something else I love and sometimes put too much effort into),  and next week is going to be great!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Win An I-9 Wheelset

Good news.  Jaimee is on the mend and able to head back to work.  Her PT even gave her the green light to ride the trainer.   But, the high medical bills are still looming and she could still use some help.  

Industry 9   agreed to donate a standard wheelset, road or mountain,  in order to help raise funds. 

Here is how it will work:
  • If you already donated,  you are automatically entered into the drawing.
  • If you would like to donate (minimum $10.00)  you can do so through the end of September.  
  • I will randomly pick one donor on October 1st.  
  • Donate here:

Thanks for helping get  a fellow cyclist back on her feet!   And Thanks to I-9, an awesome company stepping up to help out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On To The Next Race

The Pisgah MTB Stage Race starts a week from today.  I can't wait.  A 5 day race in my own back yard.   Yes, I could ride these trails for free anytime.  But,  can I ride them with old friends from around the world?  Can I meet knew friends, have a fully supported 5 day tour on most of the best trails in Pisgah?  Is there a meal and a live band at the end of the week? 

The economic benefits that a stage race like this (or any of the MTB/Gravel races)  brings to our community would not happen without people like Eric of Pisgah Productions and Todd/Heather of Blue Ridge Adventures.  Starting with the bikes shops, coffee shops and ending at the taverns.  Support the people who support local economy and the sport that brings us together!

This will  be my 6th consecutive year at the race, and I my aspirations are pretty low.  I'm not aiming for the podium,  I'm not worried about my time or placement.  I'm not trying to break any records. 

I am right on track for my year of hitting the reset button.  I'm going to follow that goal and have fun.  I'll still push my limits, but I'll stop for a couple of seconds to soak in the views and enjoy the ride. 

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends as well as meeting new ones: local , foreign and Canadian....only the nice Canadians.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pisgah Monster Cross 2013

Saturday morning, I toed the line for this epic event.  Mike Keeley and a lot of other friends had done it last year, and I was curious to see what it was all about.  I was familiar with the route and was excited to spend a day in the woods with a bunch of friends.

I camped out Friday night, and I'm not sure why this always happens to me, but I was rudely awakened several times by "the loud talker".   Hint:  if it is dark, and past 9pm,  and you are in a designated camping area,  then there are probably people trying to sleep.  If you have the need to talk loudly, late into the night, I recommend pulling out a map, and finding a spot where no one else is,  go there and talk to your heart's content....    Finally at 11:30pm I had lost my patience and told the dude to "Quiet down, people are trying to sleep".  I might start yelling at people more often, because the result was silence, and a good night's sleep.

Saturday rolled around, and thanks to Sycamore Cycle's 7:30am opening, I got a new batterty and sensor magnet just in time for the start.  We rolled out.  Dave Wood had dared me to go hard at the front to string everyone out.  I wanted to, but could not get to the front.  Next time.

I kept my pace in check and rolled along, passing and getting passed.  Same ol, same ol.  I was able to get in with a good group that contained, Patrick, Megan, Charlie, Kip Clyburn and some other folks.  We rolled along trading pulls, chatting and having a good time.  I might have put a little too much effort into this stretch, but I felt good and was flowing.

Up to the Liberty Bikes aid station,  Mark and Norman took care of what I needed and I was off.  Steady pace.   While the temps were not to hot, the humidity was high so I tried to maintain a decent pace while not overheating.  I already had some twinges of cramps for some reason.  Pedaling up Wash Creek Road,  Carey Lowery passed me,  she had punctured a sidewall and was smoothly cranking out the miles.  She was not going that much faster than me,  but fast enough to pull away and disappear by the top of the climb.

Up to the gap and south on the parkway,  I yo yoed with several people, and then bridged up to a group.  The pace was just a little faster than I was able to maintain so I backed off and went my own pace.   At some point, I realized that I had not spent any time training for long, hour plus climbs.  Oops.

On up to the Bike Street rest stop.  Quick refill, a little mouth wash cup of Coke and back on the road.  As I listened to the chatter,  everyone was interestingly in the same boat:  high humidity, can't go hard, lacking power, cramping.  Good to know I was fitting in and normal.    The next section of parkway passed by one pedal stroke at a time.  A beautiful section with huge views that I don't remember seeing.  I can't remember if it was too cloudy, or I was in the pain cave.   Then Megan Archer and Mary Shell Zafino caught me.  I tried to hang on but couldn't.  Dang it,  I couldn't let Megan beat me....

I kept the two ladies in sight all the way down 215 and then up the gravel Indian something or other road.  Then I lost them.  Making the last climb up to Gloucester Gap I was excited.  One last down hill, then pavement to the finish.  At the top,  the skies grew dark and let loose.  Monsoon rains,  puddles and rivers running across the road.  I rolled down,  it was sketchy for reelz.

A  guy on fat tires caught me and we started throwing the proverbial "let's see what you got left" punches.  Then we caught Megan and Mary Shell again.  We all rode together for about a mile and the guy gunned it.  I jumped to his wheel.  We traded pulls.  Each time he pulled he upped the pace.  Each time I pulled,  I slowed, and shook my head.  About 1 mile from the horse stables, he pushed hard,  I held his wheel.  He pulled over and I took the front,  slowing slightly.  At the horse stables, I pulled over and got behind him,  he pulled up the little grunt climb.  Just before the top, I hit the gas and dropped the dude.  A couple of glances back and he was close enough that I kept the heat on til the end.  

I hopped, sort of, over the finishing barriers and crossed the finish line.  Time: 5:19.  Not a bad day!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Liberty Bike THNR

Ol' Kevin Hessler took off on a business trip this week so it was up to me to lead the ride.  I showed up along with 7 other hearty souls.

  I was (am) tired and unmotivated.  The long summer wears me out and I ignore it until my body tells me its time to slow down.  I've spent this week off the bike and it felt like it.

We rolled out under sunny skies and humidity. 

It was not a fast ride, but it definitely was not slow either.  I focused on my pedal stroke, something that I realized I had not been focusing on enough lately.

Halfway through the ride, we could see the large dark cloud crowding the horizon.  It was going to be a race to the end.  Everyone was taking pulls on the front,  not just short ones either.   Impressive.   Everyone also had great bike handling skills.  No sketchiness on the ride tonight.

As we rounded the bend onto Mills Gap Rd, the sky grew dark.  We pushed on, opting to go straight to Sweeten Creek Rd and then right on Sweeten Creek.  I had a white light on the front, so the group consensus was that I pull.  Great,  I hope I didn't go too slow.

Up and down Sweeten Creek,  to the Parkway.  We split up and I rode the rest of the way home alone, in the closing darkness.  Thunder rumbling off in the distance and water still standing on the road from the recently passed storm.  Somehow we had managed to miss the rain.

I think I'm going to retire....except for Pisgah Monster CX.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm Sailing!

It has been over 25 yrs since I left the island paradise, Bonaire, and moved to Charlotte NC.  That was a shocker.  I was 16 yrs old, and moved from a beach front house in the Caribbean to the concrete jungle.  I still dressed the same, and acted the same.  I had never learned to fit in in another culture.  I didn't realize until later in life that I was "different"  than the darker skinned kids around me.  I cried myself to sleep for 6 months and still feel a sad longing for the island and the people. 

While Bonaire is a diver's paradise,  I preferred to spend my time on top of the water,  zipping along in wind powered craft, sailing and windsurfing.   After moving to Charlotte, after a couple of years, I was able to purchase a windsurfer and get out  to Lake Norman when the wind was blowing.   Then I went to college and sold the equipment. 

The next time I was able to sail was on my honeymoon with Rhonda.  We rented an overpriced catamaran for an hour and sailed in light winds.  And that was that.  Every time, I see a sailboat, or a lot of time when I feel the wind, especially on the coast, I am reminded of gliding along the water, waves slapping the hull, halyards slapping the mast, rudder gurgling behind the boat.....

And then, recently a boat came to me.  I was excited at first, the guy said I could take it and fix it up,  send him $100 when I got it figured out and sailed it, see if I liked it.  I got home and did some research.  It was from the Canadian Marine Equipment company that had gone out of business in 2004. 
I started process of figuring things out and it wasn't working.  For the amount of work that needed to be done, it would not be worth the time and effort.  The boat went back to the owner.  Then I posted online in the Asheville Sailing Club forum,  asking for advice on what type of boat is recommended for a family of 3 or 4 to learn to sail.  I got a lot of friendly responses and some great advice, in addition, I got several offers from people who were wanting to sell their boats.  I looked around at a few and decided to wait, save some more money over the winter and buy a complete sailboat, ready to sail in the spring. 

Then I got an e-mail.  A guy had a1947  O'Day Widgeon.  He was the second owner, his dad had been the original owner.  The boat had been in the family since '74 and it was in great shape and ready to sail.  We met and I looked at the boat.  It was perfect.  We struck a deal that was well within my current budget and the rest is "downwind"
I share the excitement of Bob in the popular movie " What About Bob"...... I'm SAILING!

Monday, September 08, 2014

More of this.

Did some more of this over the weekend.  We didn't make it to the Mountain State Fair yet.  I'm not disappointed.  

I got a good ride in on Sunday morning.  I'm feeling worn out and so just rode a steady easy gravel grinder pace, and felt a little better.   It is hard this time of year.  The darkness closing in earlier,  getting used to the school schedule again.  No more sleeping in. 

One week until Monster CX.  I'm looking forward to it,  its  a huge ride, but super scenic. I gotta focus on resting, but that's hard with an energetic 10 yr old who is bouncing off the walls!  I'll rest one day, I suppose.

Bikepacking has taken a backseat for a little while.  Too many events this month.  I'm thinking about riding out the Monster CX to camp the night before.  I'll see what the weather looks like. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014


Wow,  when did I become the whiny one?  

I need to go ride my bike and quit worrying about the little annoying crap......

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Life Moves On

 Life is busy, period.  Partially my own fault.  I cram too much stuff in.  But I also live a life full of fun, contentment (most of the time) and hopefully helping make this world a better place.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to work a job, come home, eat dinner and watch tv until bedtime..... then I snap out of it. 

I've been busy wrapping up the Trips For Kids WNC summer programming, cleaning and giving tuneups to over 30 bikes to get them ready for fall after school clubs and spending time with my family. (bikes are family members)

I've been doing some of this:

 A little bit of this:
 Hoping to do more of this:
 And this:
 Definitely more of this:
So many places to go, so little time.  Gotta get outside and laugh with the fam!