Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WN Precison Fit

I took a drive through N Georgia to meet up with Eddie O'dea.  This is my 4th WN Precision bike fit and I'm sold on it.  Each time I try to set the bike up, it feels   just a little bit off.  But when Eddie lays eyes on me and the bike and uses their programming and know how to process my body measurements, the bike fits like a glove.  People tend to make comments about how they could not do the fit, because they lack flexibility. 

As I was driving down Hwy 441 south, an unexpected flood of emotions and good memories came back to me.  I went to college in Toccoa, just a few miles off of 441, and roamed the N Ga mountains on a daily basis. 

I thought about hiking the Tallulah gorge, canoeing the Tallulah, canoeing and backpacking the Chattooga,  hanging out with friends, camping in the snow, little falls, big falls.  Too many memories to write. 

It felt like a cleansing of sorts.  Letting go of the things that had dragged me down and eaten me on the inside for a long time.  Letting go of something unexplainable and enjoying my surroundings.  Enjoying who I am and where I am in life. 

It was a welcome and refreshing surprise.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekend O Fun

 The weekend started off on Friday morning with  a group of kids from Jackson County Schools going for a ride at Richmond Hill.   Such a great group of kids with some very real life issues that they are working through.  I can't imagine going through some of their struggles and I hope that a  bike ride in the woods will give them some inspiration to keep their heads up. 

Saturday morning, we headed out to Mars Hill for some kid soccer action.  I help coach the team and have a blast doing that.  We won.... again.  I know, bad sportsmanship, but our team rocks!!  
 Saturday afternoon, I decided to beat myself up and rent a tiller for the garden.  I'd beat myself up and the wife would be happy.   A four hour rental and I got the tiller from Home Depot, to the house, the garden tilled, the tiller back to HD in 1.5 hrs.  I should get some money back.

 And there is Ollie.  Always ready to lend a helping hand. 

 Sunday it was time to shift gears and get my race on.  Sailboat race that is.  It was my first ever sailboat race.  After several years of racing in the Caribbean,  I never raced.  I raced my windsurfer but never the sailboat.  So, the kid and I headed down to Lake Julian and joined the Asheville Sailing Club for some laid back, mountain lake racing. 

The picture above show the first race before the wind picked up.  By the third race, the wind had kicked up to 15mph with gusts up to 20 plus.  I have a slow boat with a big handicap so I have no idea how I placed.  I only came in last in the 3rd race though.   I'm looking forward to racing through the summer. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Thursday Night Liberty Ride= THNR

A group of about 12 headed out from the shop tonight.  Jane and Rebecca joined us too.  Two fast local women, and super friendly to boot!

We headed down the road and I kept the lead group in sight until Taylor dropped off the back.  I sat up and waited for him to make sure nothing was wrong.  He just didn't want to hammer up the first climb which makes sense, it is only 5 minutes into the ride. 

And then we got dropped,  the group failed to wait at the stoplight, so I tucked in behind Taylor and we rolled up 280 and reeled the group in. 

The sun was shiny and the wind was cold so I just decided to enjoy myself.  Stage Race fatigue had caught up to me and I knew this was going to require quite a bit of effort.  

I only got dropped 2 more times and was able to pull some others who got dropped back up to the group as well.  Sitting up to help someone get back on the group is just as good of a workout as sitting on the front trying to go all out and. 

We wound around the country side and back into town, down Hendersonville Rd as the sun dipped behind the trees, then behind the mountains. 

I bid farewell and crept back up the hill to my house. 

I felt better than I thought I would so that was encouraging.

See you next week!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


 Well, its on, already.  P111K training that will turn into Fletcher Flyer training, that will then turn into ORAMM training.  I'm hoping to do some other events in between but I gotta make sure the family is taken care of too. 

I got out for a road ride in the sunshine and only almost got run over 3 times.  All I gotta say is, respect other life forms, period. 

The wind was blowing, and my legs were burning but it was good to get some time on the bike in the sun.   I'm pretty fired up to ride and get up to speed after the rough winter and sub par training and results for the Stage Race. 

I did learn a lot though.  I learned that with a moderate pace, I could go the distance even though I felt like crap.  And then continue riding a moderate pace the next two days and I would start to feel better.   Until the bacon,  the bacon made me feel like crap, but.... lesson learned.
So, the sun is finally shining and the temps are warming.  I'm excited to see how this year develops from behind the bars!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pisgah Stage Race 2015: Stage 5

 The final stage is over and the dust, er mud, has settled. 

I arrived at the music center on Saturday morning to find that Cashion had reserved my shotgun seat in The Bike Farm Sprinter.  I get pretty queasy on a school bus, and can only imagine how I would feel after a ride on a bus on gravel roads. 

A small group including Thomas Turner boarded the van and we were off.  What ensued was the most hilarious "middle of the pack smack".  A bunch of dudes surmising what Jeremiah's plan was and when and how they thought Thomas should react.  I'm pretty sure Thomas had it all figured out by then.....

The day before, I was under the impression that the single speed cat was going to "party pace" to the finish. I had given my word to Joe that I was not going to attack him on the final day.  He had gained 37 minutes on my and worked hard for it. 

I was disappointed to find out on Saturday morning that the roadie with the full suspension single speed was not going to back down.  The race was on and always will be.   But, I had given my word so I hung with Joe, Jason and Karl.  We have different climbing and descending paces, be we waited for each other and hung out and chatted and enjoyed the day.  It was nice to break the competitive habit and enjoy a day in the woods

 Joe, being the nice guy that he is, wanted me to finish first.  I wanted him to finish first.  What ensued was the slowest finish ever with a track stand competition and finally an agreement to cross the line together.  He pipped me at the line by about .07 seconds.  
 My crew was waiting for me at the finish.  Its always nice to get hugs after a long day in the woods! 

So,  that completes my 7th year of the Pisgah Stage Race.  I am the only person to have completed all 7 editions.  I'm pretty proud of that!   5 years geared, 2 yrs single speed. 

Fun times.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pisgah Stage Race 2015: Stage 4

Today felt much better than yesterday. 

We started and finished at The Cradle of Forestry.  We took the gravel roads out and up to Funneltop, down Horsecove with a left turn on Squirrel.  I rode my own pace which had me alone for most of the day.  That was fine, I was pretty down after my ride  yesterday. 

We started under overcast skies and the sun came out after about an hour.  Nice.  I enjoyed the ride.  No use hammering myself to death and still winding up in the same place.   I figured I was still putting some mile in and I should make them count. 

Down Laurel Creek,  up Bradley Creek road, I was feeling good. 

On the way to the race,  my stomach was still feeling queasy so I stopped to get a Coke.  While I was there, I bought a honey bun.  That hit the spot.  I ate most of it and saved 3 bites for later.  This and 2 bites of a p b and j were the only thing that I ate all day.  I also drank 3 bottles of my sports drink and one bottle of Coke.  I'm not sure what is going on, but I'm figuring that my body is so depleted that it just can't process solids while I'm riding. 

Regardless,  I had the energy to move forward at a steady pace so I was pleased. 

After a quick stop at Yellow Gap and then up Laurel and down Pilot.  

I walked quite a bit on both sides of the mountain, but survival was the name of the game at this point.  The focus was no longer on moving up in my category, but finishing. 

I made my way to the bottom of Pilot, and got ready to cross the creek, about 6 miles from the finish.  I noticed some sticks on the ground marking something,  like a directional marking.  I started to ride into the creek.  I clipped the edge of one of the sticks, it flipped into my front wheel.  Instantly, I was underwater from the waist up,  my legs elevated on the boulder above the water.  Briefly remember the thought that this could be really bad.  I came to my senses, sat up and assessed the damage.  My left knee hurt like mad as well as my shoulder. 

I sat on the rock for a few minutes then got up and back on the bike. 

Everything seemed to be working fine so I pedaled to the finish.   Over 4 hrs on the bike but feeling good, except for the bruising! 

I'm still in 6th place SS, 37 minutes behind.

Stage 5 tomorrow.  And I promised not to attack 5th place.  We'll just ride in and enjoy the views!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pisgah Stage Race 2015: Stage 3

Stage 3 kicked my butt.  That's it.  I felt really good when I got up, getting ready and loaded.  As soon as I hit the road, I started feeling weird,  nauseous.  I get nervous sometimes, but it usually goes away.

We lined up, the gun went off and I fell behind Joe.  Josh, 1st place ss disappeared.  I never even saw him.  I followed Joe, Dejay and Scott passed us and we fell in line,  then Evan shot by weaving in and out of people like a cat running from a dog.  Dejay, Scott, Joe and I road together for a little while until I started to fade.  I backed off and that was all she wrote.

I'm not sure if I didn't get enough fuel after yesterday's stage or what,  but I didn't have anything, and anytime I tried to accelerate, I got nauseous.  I've always had a frail stomach, and sometimes it just doesn't pan out.

I went into survival mode, knowing that everyone was likely suffering today.  I did a lot of hike a biking,  up Black.  Down Maxwell to Clawhammer, it felt good to coast.  Down Buckhorn I started feeling a little better.  I was able to eat some gels and blocks, and keep drinking.  That was good.  I hoped I would be able to maintain.

The climb up 477 was long and arduous.  I kept withing myself and enjoyed the forest.  Something smelled weird.  A strong odor of urine.  Weird.  I made it to Club Gap and decided that in order to try to recover for Stage 4,  I should hike the whole thing.  I did, except for the little downhill.

Up and over the top and down Avery Creek.

Through the rest stop, Coke and a quarter of Pb n j.  Thanks Todd and Karlos.  Then the grind back up Clawhammer and Maxwell,  hike up and over black, then slip n slide down to the finish.

Looks like I'm back in 6th place on the day and overall.  Joe gained 30 minutes on me and I'm proud of him.  He has worked hard to get where he is.  I'm almost ready to party pace with him,  but the competitive side of me wants to duke it out til the end!  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pisgah Stage Race 2015: Stage 2

I kind of slept the night before stage 2.  I drank my coffee, ate my bagel, prepped my bottles, loaded up and headed out.  I sometimes wish that I could stay in Brevard all week and enjoy the dinner and award ceremony offered each night, hanging out with other racers.  But,  when I get home and see the smile on my wife and kid's face,  I'm glad that I'm there.

A roughly 30 minute drive to the parking lot,  change, wait,  and then we started.  1st place single speeder was gone,  Evan had to turn back due to mechanical, Scott, Dejay, Joe and I had a spinning drag race to Turkey Pen.......

It had been raining since early in the day, and had not let up.  And would not let up for the entire day.

On the gravel road, Dejay and Scott took off.  Joe and I rode together for a while.  Chatting about life.  Just a couple of dudes in the woods.  I don't like to talk a lot when I ride, so after about 45 minutes, I got quiet and into my rythym.  I noticed that I was gaining a little bit of ground.  But I was going my steady race pace so I just held my rhythm.  

I had a blast on Squirrel.  I was riding some things that I had not ridden before. Then we crossed south Mills River and started the climb to Buckhorn Gap.  The rain was flowing down the middle of the trail,  making it mushy, with leaf debris all over the place.  There was no going fast.  Only a long, grinding,  energy sapping grind to the top.  I passed a couple of geared riders early on and held my pace.  

The leaves are popping, and spring is in full force.  Every now and then I remind myself to sit up and look around. 

At Buckhorn Gap,  I stopped to put on my jacket for the ride down Clawhammer.   By the time I got to Maxwell, I was shivering.  I stopped for my bottle and a Coke and was off.  I simply could not generate any heat on the climb up to Black and held a steady pace.  I knew Joe was back there somewhere,  he is one touch dude and a savvy competitor. 

As I crested to hike a bike over Black, and headed down,  my brakes were worn thin,  my fingers were numb and my confidence was shot.  I forced myself to let go a little but used a lot of caution.  And I made it down with only one small spill. 

I crossed the finish line shivering and sat in my truck for 15 minutes with the heat running.  I changed,  and headed into town for some food.  I finally stopped shivering after eating the Turkey, Cheddar and Bacon Club! 

I finished 4th Single Speed on the day, and now sit in 4th in the SS cat. 

Looks like tomorrow will be chilly, but less chance of rain.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pisgah Stage Race 2015: Stage 1

 We arrived to Cove Creek Campground to find a swollen creek.  As far as I know, everyone made it through without any major issues.  The F-150 handled it like a champ.  I was glad that I was not driving the Honda Accord that we used to have,   I got it stuck once, down a dirt road, late at night.... oops.

After lots of rain in the forecast, we were all pleased to be seeing blue and sunshine through the holes in the clouds.  We chit chatted and got kitted up,  everyone a little nervous and excited to get rolling.  I was excited, but unsure how my under training would pan out.

Todd fired the gun and we were off.  The field spread out pretty quickly.  Joe Worsham warned that we were going to fast too soon, but I wanted to keep within sight of Dejay.  He was moving slower than I had thought he would.  Must be just getting warmed up.

Eric Crews, the one and only
 And then I was alone, for the most part.  I climbed Daniel,  got away from Joe, only to be passed by him going down the enduro section.  I'll admit, that first hour I was struggling.   The Daniel's Ridge loop is way more fun going the other direction.  Lots of hike a bike happened, and I fought with the demons in my head to get my perspective straight.

I went down the list of why I was here, and how I got started in Mountain Bike racing.  Then I headed up the gravel road,  taking a left at Gloucester Gap,  climbing some more, descending and finally a right on Butter Gap.   Then things clicked,  I started pedaling more smoothly and within my range.   I was trying to get out of reach of the guy behind me, while at the same time hoping to get a glimpse of Joe in front of me.  
I would find out later that he would get an 8 minute gap on me.

Flowing down Butter,  back out on the gravel, to the Davidson River Trail,  and NASCAR fast pit stop with Karlos and friends and I was climbing again.   I managed a steady pace, but I suffered for the hard effort in the first hour.  Oh well,   maintain to the top and don't let the guy behind me catch me.  Every switchback I gained a little ground.

My mind and body slowly remembering what racing is.  I'm thankful to be here.  This is my first race of the season.

Grinding to the top, left turn, another left on Cove Creek then spin it out, glide, spin etc all the way down.

There are a couple of new bridges and some loads of gravel that definitely made the ride more enjoyable.

No one in sight, ahead of behind,  I don't let up and cruise into the finish.  Satisfied and not quite depleted. Wound up in 6th place single speed.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Its Time

It is finally time to race.  I'm not sure yet how much racing I'm going to be doing.  Might be more like riding, but that's cool.  I feel a little like I haven't studied enough for a test because my girlfriend kept me out late.  Now, I'm hoping I can get a C and pass.

My plan is to just ride steady, and see where I land.  I definitely don't want to blow up on the first day, I've done that before.   And from experience, I know that others will fade as the days go by. 
I don't regret not getting the A level training in.  I spent the time with my family,  I wouldn't trade that for anything! 

Let's ride.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Race Ready

 Well,  its finally race time.  24 hr countdown and we'll be off, in the rain, riding around Pisgah NF.  I'm ready and thanks to Salas Bikes, Liberty Bikes, Endless Bike Co, and I-9,  my bike is ready.  I'm riding single speed.  I stuck with the 32x21 gearing.  I switched to 32x20 about 4 weeks ago and my joints started feeling creaky.  While I get spun out on any flat, this gear is the perfect climbing gear for me at this point.  I'll experiment with a stiffer gear later this summer though. 

We had a pretty fun weekend.  I spent Saturday cutting, splitting and hauling firewood,  continuing to get stocked up for next year.  I'm sure we'll burn a some more this week, with rain and chilly temps...

Sunday, we headed out to the lake for some relaxing family time.  Our sailboat, which we have christened "The Edge of The Wild",  is so much fun.  The Asheville Sailing Club has races at Lake Julian on Sundays during the summer... can't wait!

I might be competitive.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kaboom Playground Grant

 Thanks to April Alexander, Oakley has received a grant from BCBS through Kaboom to build a new playground. 
 Yesterday was design day and we spent 9 hours at the school, walking the build site, planning, discussing picking out colors etc.    Over the past couple of weeks, each of the kids in the school drew pictures of their dream playground. 

Today a large group of kids gathered in the cafeteria with Katie, our Kaboom rep, and planned some more details and what they wanted in a playground. 
 The adults gathered later to do make decisions on the same thing as well!  Lot's of discussion and great ideas.  It was great to see the community members come out and share ideas and dreams!  
There is still lots to do and you don't have to have kids in the school to participate.   There are several committees that need your help:  recruitment,  planning, food, construction etc.

Prep days are June 17-18,  we will need 30 folks to help unpack supplies and prep the site.

Build day is June 19th.  We need 250 volunteers!!

We also need food donated for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day to feed all of the volunteers. 

If you can help,  give Oakley Elementary School a call, or contact me. 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Long Day, Short Ride

Some people wonder what I do all day.  Some people think that all I do is ride my bike.  Lemme tell you something.  If all I did was ride my bike,  I would be winning bike races..... 

I squeezed in just over 1 hr of riding, in the middle of my 14 plus hour workday.  I don't hold "normal" office hours which leaves me  a lot of flexibility.   Daily,  I think about what I have to do, and wonder if there is "just a little more" that I could be doing to help my community.  

That's my big picture.  I have a job, which is also my passion.  But the reality is that my job, while part of my lifestyle enables me to fulfill my big picture goal:  Helping make my community a better place. 

I get to go in my kid's school,  help kids read, help them with math,  work with the teachers, supporting them where I can. 

Then I go pick up donated bikes, take them to The Bicycle Thrift Shop, fix them up and sell them at an affordable rate.  And when I hear of a need, I donate them.  There are so many kids that need bikes and can't afford them.  When I run for president,  my platform will be based on the fact that every kid needs a bike, no matter what age! 

Do I regret that I only got in an hour ride?  No.  Do I wish I could ride more?  Yes.  But the reward is worth the "sacrifice".  I'll suffer next week at The Pisgah MTB Stage race.  I could have used more intervals, more hours, more.....   But, I'll be on my bike, doing the best I can,  and the next time I work a 14 hr day,  I'll do my best to smile, knowing that my community is just a little better. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Gettin Ready

One week left on the countdown to The Pisgah MTB Stage Race.   My head is in the right place and my body is feeling like its ready.  I could use another month of longer rides, but I'm sure everyone could. 

I'm looking forward to riding around the woods for a week.  I enjoy meeting new people from different places and psyching them out each day about what lies ahead.  Especially if it rains,  then they really get skeerd.  

Ready to rock! 

Monday, April 06, 2015

Lazy Weekend

 Spring break weekend is always somewhat of a recovery process.  Worn out from travel,  wanting to go adventuring but staying close to home and doing some simple things instead.  Skate park time with the kids,  digging a stump out of the yard,  short walk with the wife etc. 

 Sunday I got out for a short ride on the race machine.  It was 34 degrees and brrrr.   I hope that I don't have to ride in the cold any more this year!   I'm feeling good and looking for a fun time at the Stage Race this year.   I can't think about racing just yet,  gotta focus on having fun.  That leaves a whole lot less stress! 

 Heard rumors of a fire up on the ridge.  Saw smoke then started hearing the chopper in the valley.  We jumped in the minivan and headed down to get a peak.  We were treated to a front row pass to watch this guy drop in, fill up, fly out, dump, then repeat.  The pilot caught sight of us and waved as he buzzed overhead.  I bet he was having a blast. 

 Celebrating freedom with a chunk of mesquite smoked beef, baked potatoes and cole slaw....  yeah!!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Spring Break 2015 Part 2: Swamp Rabbit

 We loaded up the bikes,  yes, the whole family on bikes!  And headed down to the Swamp Rabbit Rail Trail in Greenville.  I'd heard a lot about it and it was time to check it out.

It turned out to be a fun time.  There were more people than I expected for a Friday.  I'd probably avoid the place on the weekends.

We parked in Travelers Rest and headed towards Greenville.  The kid is having some allergy issues so we only made it to the Cafe for a snack.  We went around to the Greenville Cycling Center on the other side of the building and Mark gave us a tour.  Super nice guy and excited about helping people!

We are planning another trip to ride into Greenville and back!  Family bikepacking trip?  
 The wife road a hybrid  and loved it.  I'll be on the lookout for one that fits better.  She was even talking about riding one of the Fletcher Flyer Routes!!
2 days of the weekend left, and then its back to the grind.  Although I can hardly call what I do a "grind".    Its more like  "BRAAAAAAAP"!!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Spring Break 2015 Part 1

 We loaded up and headed down the mountain to Hamilton Branch State Park with the sailboat in tow.  We had never been to this lake or campground so we were unsure of what to expect.  I get so stressed out when planning and prepping for these trips that it really puts a damper on things sometimes.  Something I really need to work on.  There is not point in getting stressed about something that should be fun.  We just need to go more, so I have more practice! 
 The campground is huge.   The sites were spread out, but the bathhouses are few and far between.  We chose a spot close to one, but it appears that the way to go is either have a golf cart, or drive to the bathhouse if you are not close.   
 I tried to keep the meals simple with no mess.  Bratwurst and eggo type waffle on tinfoil over the fire worked well.  I put p-nut butter and honey on my waffles.  Finger foods= no messy dishes to wash.  For dinner on nite #1 we had hot dogs, with chili, and baked beans on the side.  Setting the can of beans and chili on the grill works really well.  Nite #2 we had frozen pizza on the griddle.  Simply place griddle on the grill over the hot coals, place pizza on the griddle, cover with tin foil,  wait 15-20 minutes, and boom,  hot pizza!!  
 Since we were two weeks out from the Pisgah MTB stage race, I felt like I should take my bike and ride every day.  I only go one ride in.  Oh well.  I rode a part of the Steven's Creek Trail, aka Modoc.  Fun punchy narrow single track.  
 On the way back to camp, I could not resist taking a spin on the Modoc Speedway. 
 While we were there, we got to experience a pollen storm.  Huge billowing clouds of pollen, leaving the dust covering everything.  I've never seen anything like that before. 
 And of course,  there was plenty of boat time.    This was great for testing out the sailboat with the back up motor.  We want to get back to Charleston Harbor,  but don't plan on getting swept out by the tidal current again.  The motor weighs about 42 pounds and after re-rigging the boom,  everything seems to work fine. 
 On the way home, we stopped in Spartanburg to skate, scoot and walk on the rail/trail.  That is when we discovered Bull Hawgs Barbecue right on the trail.  It smelled delicious and tasted even better.