Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

Goodbye 2011,  it has been one good year of riding.
What a great year of riding!  I achieved my goal of 2500+ mtb miles and 1000+ road miles.  Unfortunately, I did not achieve the goal of losing weight, and maintaining that weight loss, but hey there is always next year.  Now back to the riding...
Recently, another rider (we will call him Jack) made a crack about all the Umstead Park (double track) miles I “allegedly” ride, I thought, “That’s a bunch of BS, I don’t ride that much Umstead.”  So I gathered all my miles to prove it.  What did I find?  I ride a crapload of Umstead.

My total miles for the year were 4097 miles.
Single Speed mtb: 2854
Geared mtb: 95
Single Speed road: 1092
Geared road: 56

I hit Umstead 36 different times for 864 miles, most of any “trail”.  Throw in one Duke Forest ride and I rode over 900 miles of double track to go along with  ~1950 miles of single track.  For the record, I rode solely Umstead only 4 times (due to wet trails or snow) and the hills in Umstead are one heck of a workout! 

Other notable trails:
Nine different “hush-hush” trails 51 times for a combined 746 miles (most at 286).
Harris 20 times for 389 miles.
Wilkesboro Trails 4 times for 231 miles.
California Trails 8 rides for 202 miles
Crabtree 10 times for 143 miles.
San Lee twice for 49 miles.

Ate 9 full racks of ribs, hit Buffets (hard) ~15 times, ate too much fast food, ate too much ice-cream and drank just the right amount of beer.

Unfortunately I lost ~6 weeks of riding thanks to a strained knee, sliced knee (PMBAR) and broken hand (Shenandoah100).  So, for 2012, my goals are more of the same but without the injuries; and I want to drop ~20lbs (no more 'full' racks of ribs, 1/2 the Buffets, and a whole lot less ice-cream and fast food).

Looking forward to a good year.  Smiley

Saturday, December 17, 2011


On a impulse, I purchased a 2009 Gary Fisher Superfly frame to build as a geared bike (thanks for the deal Kelly).  Picked up the frame Thursday after work and had it built up and test ridden (up the street) that evening.  Amazingly, the 'magic gear' for this bike is my normal gearing of 32:20.  Took it for it's first ride today (Sat.) for `22 miles of tight, twisty single track (in Holly Springs) and it rides amazing!  You can really feel how light the bike is when kicking it sideways to avoid a slippery root or going over logs etc.  Still, I probably will sell the frame.
 1. The top tube is ~1" to long.
2. The stand over is ~1" to high.
3. The bike is so light, I am afraid to jump it, drop it etc.
4. I need to purchase a new rack as I cannot clamp the frame with my current rack.
5. I am not good enough to ride such a lightweight, fast rocket of a bike.
Still, it is one sweet ride.

I did get word that the Soul Cycles Dillinger 29er frame will be here in 2-3 weeks, so hopefully that will work out as it can be run geared or SS (so what if it is 1.5 lbs heavier) :(

UPDATE: Sold the Supa' Fly two weeks later.  Sold the Dillinger as I am all Niner all the time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Going For 4k

So, I just added up my total miles for the year and as of the beginning of the month I have a total of 3,672 miles (mtb/road combined).  Pretty surprising considering I have not ridden much since September.  So, I need 328 miles in December to break the 4k mark.  I have not had a month with over 300 miles since August, but being this close, I am determined.  First, it will set a personal best, and Second, lord knows my gut and legs need the workout.  Luckily December is a long month with 3 weeks left, so I now need ~73 miles each week to accomplish that goal.  Barring disaster, this is in the bag baby!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting Old, Fat, and Out of Shape!

Trying not to end up like this!
So, at the start of 2011 I was motivated in training for my first every 24hr (Burn24) and first 100 (Shenandoah).  I was motivated and riding, a lot.  After breaking my hand at Shenandoah, I went from riding a lot to riding a little.  Dang it is amazing how quick you lose it.  I went from riding 350-400 miles a month to 200.  I use to feel pretty good after a 60 mile mtb ride, now I am hurting after 40 miles, oh, and I gained ~10lbs.  Funny, after weighing myself in November and realizing I gained 5 lbs, I set a goal to do the impossible: lose weight between Nov. and Jan., well, turned out is was impossible as I gained ~ 5lbs.  Thank god New Years is right around the corner, just in time for a resolution to eat less and exercise more!

ps. Note to self: Bobby does not like flatulence jokes during a ride...especially when actual flatulence is involved.  Sorry, Bobby, but sometimes when you get older, you just can't help it. ;)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Man With No Bike Shoes

Un...(wait for it)...Believable!
For the last few Thanksgivings, the mtb brother duo of Mark and Jack have lead a series of rides over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  The first ride (on Thanksgiving day) was going to cover two trails of Old Reedy Creek rd (ORC); let's just call them the rocky trail and the numbered trail.  I show up motivated to ride hard as I have put on a few lbs and am eager to start burning calories.  I get the bike ready, helmet on etc.  Oh wait, where the %#&* are my shoes?  You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!!!  Left them on the garage floor.  I look down at the Crocks on my feet and say outloud, "My ride is over."  Fortunately, Alex H. was willing to let me wear his kick around shoes (black leather, lace ups with rounded toe...think Popeye shoes).  They were a half size to big, and the thought of using these regular shoes on my SPD's was a bit daunting, but whatever. 
Now the rocky trail is one of the toughest in our area with many endo causing roots, rocks and holes.  All the leaf cover did not help either, but thanks to some strategic cyclocross like moves, I was able to make it through the 6+ mile course, albeit with very fatigued feet/legs as the shoes did not stay on the SPD pedals well causing major supination (opposite of pronation, duh).  After 6 more miles of the more flowy numbered trail, my feet had, enough.  We went through a couple river crossings and the wet rubber soled shoes did not want to stay on the wet SPD's so I short cutted it ~2 miles out to give me ~14.6 miles of riding.  Finished the ride almost 4 hrs ago and the feet/ankles are still sore.  I'm thinking I will remember my shoes next time.

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finding Time to Ride

I just don't want this to be me!
It is getting more and more difficult finding time to ride.  With my daughter breaking her arm and needing surgery, work expecting more (while paying less), the house needing a lot of upkeep/repairs and spending time with the family, ride time is difficult to come by.  Still, the plan is to get a good ride in during the week (likely at Harris Lake) and one good ride on the weekend (mostly at the Umstead area trails).  Add that with two or three commutes to work on the single-speed road bike and hopefully I can keep from getting fat and keep from losing endurance, all the while keeping warm while riding in freezing temps.  Yikes, I may have to do something desperate, like break out the trainer!!! :o


Monday, November 14, 2011

Birthday/Veterans Day Weekend

What a way to start a weekend.  A night ride at Harris Lake, followed by hanging out at "My Way Tavern" in Holly Springs with Ben, Chris and Brandon.  Enjoyed suckin' down beer n' brats while watching the Raiders beat the Chargers on Thursday night.  Along with some family time I also took a state teaching exam (boring, but necessary), had a rack of ribs, and went for yet another bike ride.  The last ride was over some fantastic single-track in N.Raleigh with Kelly, Jeff and Jay.  Good times with the three F's, Family, Friends and Food...doesn't get any better than that!
It was a magical birthday as the ribs and beer simply disappeared!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 18 Hour Scouts Honor Race.

Not sure why I signed up for this event.  I think because I did well at the Burn, I wanted to see if I could replicate that result.  Unfortunately, attending this event meant missing Escape from Dark Mtn. and the Fat Tire Festival.  Still, I was excited to do something different.
The venue was amazing.  I drove up with Matt (36er guy) and we decided to arrive Friday night and get a preride lap in.  We were amazed to find that we were the only ones there.  The place was deserted.  We started checking out the facilities and ended up scaring the beejeezus out of one of the race directors when we peeked into the restrooms (oops).
So, we find our teepee lodging (a wooden teepee, no buffalo hides), unpack and get ready to ride ~9pm.  Don't know how or when it happened, but ~2.5 miles into our wet, mucky preride, I hear a click-click-click.  I have heard that sound before...broken spoke on my Mavic C29SSMAX.  End of preride.

After getting back to the teepee I called a couple guys that I knew were arriving the next day to beg for a rear wheel.  This is what is so great about the mtb community here: I called two people, and as it ended up, three guys were willing to bring me a rear wheel.  I took Kelly K. up on his offer of a Bontrager Duster (or was it Mustang) and the relaxed for a very, very cold nights sleep.

Lets get to the race.
First two laps were fairly uneventful.  I really like the course, however, it was wet, the roots were slippery, and it made the legs feel heavy.  Lap three I went down three times, no injuries, just low speed falls due to slippery roots and pedals too tight...I started walking a few sections just to stay safe.  I loosened the pedals and headed out for lap 4, averaging ~1:03 to 1:05 a lap over ~8.5 miles.  During lap 4 I was getting sick of constantly slipping and slogging over the course.  I had a bad slide into a tree that bruised up an already bruised shoulder, then on another low speed crash, I did not want to fall on my bruised shoulder so I put my hand down (the one I broke at Shenandoah) and that hurt.  At that point I was done.  I did not want to risk injury that might keep me off the bike for an extended period of time so I made up my mind to call it a race.  My legs actually felt great, so I picked up my pace, caught a few guys, including Brett E., who also decided to call it a race.  Since he was also on a single-speed he refused to let me pass him, and since he was nice enough to invite me up to Shenandoah, and to bring me a rear wheel, I though I would let him finish in front (though I am sure he would argue that I couldn't pass him if I wanted, but I could have!).  So, I went to the fire pit where Brett, Kelly, Jeff, Dale and others were pitting and hung out to cheer on Matt and his 36er SS solo effort.  Matt took 3rd, which is awesome, and I took last, which is embarrassing, but $#it happens.  Really I could blame this poor result on my switch to a 29er.  The bigger rim requires longer spokes which are more vulnerable to rocks, roots or just my heavy butt.  Maybe I should switch back?  What do you think? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New 29er! My Misfit DiSSent Build

Mmm, naked....aluminum that is.
After finding out that my Soul Cycles Dillinger frame is delayed until Nov/Dec., and with all these 29er parts sitting around my garage collecting dust, I decided to take matters into my own hands (wallet) and picked up a used Misfit DiSSent on ebay.  The frame came in on Friday afternoon and I built it up Friday evening after work.  Nice!  The first ride was great.  I set it up for a relaxed geometry with the steer-tube ~1/2 higher than usual.  The bike performed flawlessly around Umstead and Crabtree (where everyone is a hero).  So far I am very pleased and now look forward to riding this bike in the Scouts Honor 18 Hour Race.  This weekend was my first single-track ride since breaking my hand (healing nicely, thank you), and I now feel comfortable that I may be able to survive the race as I have two more weeks to heal up.  My strategy going into this 18 hour race with little training?  Rest lots!

~2 hours of sanding and polishing...voila'!
On a side note, I did a quick inspection of all the welds on the frame looking for cracks, I found none.  The day after my first ride (Sun.) I am cleaning off the frame and found what looked to be stress fractures on the top-tube.  I was stressed.  I contacted the ebay vendor and said I was returning the frame and then contacted Matt at "Dillon Bikes" to get the headset removed.  Later that day Andy inspected the bike and thought that they were likely not cracks and I should not worry about it.  So, if anything happens to me, Andy is assuming all responsibility.  Good to know I have that to fall back on should I fall forward on a broken Aluminum Frame.  Thanks Andy.

All pretty and ready to ride, totally worth it.
My next quick project?  Polishing up this frame to a shiny finish. Me likes shiny things!

EDIT 10/19: could not ride tonight, so I put in some elbow grease polishing up the frame with 800, 1000, and 1500 grit wet sandpaper and then Mothers Aluminum Polish.  Could be better, but my elbows ran out of grease.  Still, me likey!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dillon Bikes Review

Over the last few months I had heard of a guy starting up a bike shop out of his garage here in Fuquay, "Dillon Bikes."  Even though I do most of my own work, I thought it was cool that there would be a shop so close to where I live (between my work and home) in case I needed anything.  I had run into the owner, Matt Dillon a few times over the last couple months, at a trail, a road ride and a movie, but never introduced myself yet I was hoping an opportunity would arise to go check out shop and eventually it did.
When I decided to pick up a new (used) frame on ebay, I called a couple places to see what they would charge for labor to swap my headset and crown race from my old frame/fork to the new.  $30 was the quote from a couple of shops and so in communication with Matt, he agreed to the same price, saying he would always match other shops quotes (cool).  Unfortunately, there was a delay in my frame being shipping (there goes that guys 5 star ebay rating) so I was glad that Matt was willing to make himself available in about a two hour window of time on Friday late afternoon when my frame finally arrived.  Turns out he was squeezing me in between getting home from work and taking his wife out to dinner.

Here is a shot of my garage/bike shop...
Fortunately, Dillon's looks nothing like this. :)
Dillon Bikes itself is run out of Matt's garage, and I must say that I was pretty impressed with his shop.  Everything was neat, clean and orderly which was confidence inspiring.  I also noticed he had a couple bikes parked in a rack with service tags on them so it was good to know I am not the only customer. :)
I found Matt to be very friendly, personable and professional.  He had no problem with the headset, and though he did not have the fancy tool for the crown race, he had the know-how to remove it and install it in a careful manner that was impressive.  In my limited experience: the Cycle Surgeon is great, as is Jason @ All-Star and Hormis (who always made me feel like a pro) @ Flythe.  Still, Dillon bikes fills a niche in the southern end of Wake/Northern Harnett where there are few to no options other than driving 30-40 miles round trip for your bike.  I definitely recommend him and will be using Dillon Bikes again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pulp Non-Fiction

Hand Update:
Tried riding without the brace 2-4 weeks before the brace is cleared to come off.  Mistake.  Hand hurt (in-spite of wearing two gloves) and I ended up riding as if I had the brace, with no pressure on the right side of my right hand.   So, maybe I should wear the brace next week.  Maybe not.  After all I am a guy and we are not always known for doing what is best for our bodies.  To steal a phrase from the late, great Al Davis, "Just Ride Baby!"...or something like that.

29er AND Tubeless!
First time w/tubeless. Beginners Luck?
I am AMAZING (someone had to say it)!  I just installed Maxxis Ikon tires on my Mavic C29SSMAX rims.  First time mounting tires tubeless (used Stans).  I watched a couple of YouTube videos, made a call to a buddy for moral support (thanks Andy), a little soap, set the bead, then pop-pop-pop, up they filled.  I let them sit overnight before putting in the Stans.  When I did add the Stans (through the valve) there was no leaking, seeping or weeping.  Damn I'm good! Or I did something horribly wrong, but hey, right now I am reveling in the moment!

Where Is My Frame???
I have been waiting on the new Soul Cycles Dillinger frame for a while (looks like it could be Nov/Dec).  Started getting impatient so I bid on, and won, a used Misfit DiSSent frame on ebay.  It was supposed to arrive in 3-7 days, that was 8 days ago.  It is now suppose to arrive on Thursday (10 days later).  There goes that guy's 5 star ebay rating.  Nope, not a star over 3 (maybe 4) for you sucka!  That'll learn ya' to delay my frame!

18hr Scouts Honor:
I have ridden so sparingly since Shenandoah, I think I am kidding myself with this 18 hr ride.  In the last month, I have ridden Umstead three times for a total of  85 a month!  The race is in three weeks, so I plan on starting my training this weekend, and next weekend.  Yep, that should be plenty.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Recovering From Injury

If you have been riding for a while, chances are you have been injured.  And of course you know, being injured sucks.  After breaking my hand at the Shenandoah 100, it took me eleven days to get back on the bike.  I might have tried sooner, but it was not happening with the temporary cast.  Once the removable brace came in, I was on the bike.  Good thing as I think I gained 4-5 lbs in the time I did not ride.  I hate to admit it, but I even took up...(pause for effect)...running.  Well, I would not call it running, more like walking fast enough to pass for a jog, though I am sure a fast walker would have smoked me.  So there is my newly acquired P90X collecting dust, can't do pushups, can't do pull ups, can't do curls...sure I don't really do those anyway, but now that I know I can't, I want to start!  Plus there are some other really important things I like to do with my right hand that I must now try to do with my left...just not the same. :(

In a lame cast for a couple weeks!
Finally a removable even looks cool!

I am supposed to wear this darn brace for 6-8 weeks (off just in time for the Scouts Honor 18 Hour), so until then, I see more jogging in my future, and more riding, just not single-track and just not single-speeds.  I am stuck riding my geared roadie to work and will also ride my geared FS bike on double track to try to keep the fitness up.  It is not easy as the darn brace is always in the way and puts all the pressure on the lower palm portion below my thumb, but a sore thumb and riding is better than no riding.  Like a famous person once said, "It is better to have ridden and wrecked, than to never have ridden at all."  --o.k., I said that, but it is true!
Hopefully in 6-8 weeks I will be healed up and good as new so I can start tearing up the single track on the new 29er I am building (with one hand).
More on that later. :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Shenandoah 100 -- A Tale of Survival

Triangle Folks carbo loading & conversing.
More pre-race carbo-loading.

Thank God it is over!
I really never know how I will truly feel for an event until after it begins…even 5-10 miles in.  I could tell shortly, I did not feel great.  Mistake—Wearing a thicker weight, sleeved jersey on a warm day, when all I have been wearing all summer were sleeveless summer-weights, left me feeling constricted and overheated.
The real Ho Chi Minh Trail
Still, though I felt sluggish with no pep to my step, I made it past the first aid station and through the Ho Chi Mihn trail, bombed down the first single-track, and hit the road in route to aide station #2.  Along the way I realized I was nearly 30 miles in and had gone through only one bottle.  Big Mistake!  I started to take in fluids and ate a good amount to try to catch up with my nutritional needs.  Big Mistake!  I started to then feel nauseous as my stomach tried to process all the junk I was tossing down.  And what was up with this cramping starting after mile 35?  Seriously???  Had not cramped in forever, and suddenly they were upon me (insert swear work of choice) %$&@!

Shenandoah's Ho Chi Minh trail
It became very apparent that any time goal I initially had set was to be tossed out and that survival became the motivator.  It was not my day, fine, I could live with that.  Still, I just needed to keep going and finish regardless of the result.  Then it happened.  On the bombing downhill single track between stations 2 and 3, I was hugging the ridge a bit too much and caught my shoulder on a tree.  The jarring impact tossed me off the bike and down the ravine ~20ft before I came to rest.  My first thought was, “Sweet mercy, It’s over.” But then after taking an account of my well being I realized that in spite of a sore, bruised shoulder, and some thorn tears on my leg, I could continue.  I checked over the bike and it was fine, so , no longer bombing, with fingers firmly placed on the brakes,  gingerly down the trail I went.
Refueling at #5, hand not yet broken.
 At some point, while hike-a-biking,  I ran into Jay and made a decision to just ride with him and finish together.  He also was struggling with cramps, so together we made a pathetic pair walking-riding-walking toward the finish.  Then it happened again.  Less than a mile down the bombing downhill single-track between checkpoints 5 & 6 (Wild Oak), I took a hard spill into the embankment and instantly felt fingers on my right hand bend backwards with sharp pain.  I ended up stuck, face first in the embankment with my body tangled into my bike.   Jay rolled up behind me and helped me up, but my ring and pinky finger were tweaked and I could not grip my handle bar.  We were 6-8 miles from the checkpoint 6, maybe 20 miles from finishing.  Jay was willing to walk the trail with me but I insisted he go on and finish.
I started the slow walk down.  I took a spill and dropped the bike falling on my butt to avoid putting my hand down.  This was ridiculous.  I tried several times to squeeze the grip, but there was no way, the pain shot through my arm and I knew I would lose control of the bar if I tried any steep descent.  I walked some more, constantly trying to open and close the fingers to get some movement.  Then, an Idea.  I could grip the bar-end with my thumb and forefinger and though I could place no weight on the left side of my palm (beneath the pinky and ring finger) I could place weight on the palm beneath the thumb and index finger.  I gave it a shot and it worked.  With my left hand I rode the front brake all the way down the trail balancing the bike by gripping the right bar-end with my thumb and index finger.  It was a long slow descent, and I had to bail off the bike once, but it sure beat walking.   Another rider that had passed (and offered aid) told the volunteers at checkpoint 6 about my dilemma. When I finally arrived at the aid station, I had to prove to them I could use my brake, so I pretended to squeeze the brake in their presence.  Luckily they were not looking at the grimace of pain on my face.  So off I went, toward the finish, battered, bruised, stinging, bleeding and broken...but not beaten—survival mode.  After some long, steep hike-a-bike sections, I rode on in to the finish, collected my pint glass and in spite of my poor result, I felt pretty darn proud to be one of the SM100 finishers.    
A couple broken metacarpals...meh.
Thank God it is over! 

Note: I learned a valuable lesson during this race.  I am not a chamois butter guy, but knew for long races I might need some.  Somewhere between checkpoints 5 and 6, I was feeling a little chaffing and decided to apply some cream.

Apparently you do not wait until you are already chaffed to apply chamois cream.  I screamed some very choice words, and put them in such an order that defies explanation…might even have made up some new words.  I really could have done without that experience.  As they say here in the south, “That’ll learn ya!”

Note #2.  Upon finishing, I was stoked to learn that my buddy Kelly K. took 7th in a stacked SS division and several Triangle area riders finished between 10 and 12 hours.  Nice showing by the local folks.

Here is an elevation profile of this beast of an event.  It hurt!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Riding Skinny Tires

My roadie/commuter is ~20lbs of steely goodness.
So, a few weeks ago, my buddy Jeremy mentions a road ride out of a church here in Fuquay Varina on Monday nights.  Even though I had a big ride that Saturday (62 miles), I thought it might make for a nice recovery ride (and I have heard how road miles are good for endurance racing), so I joined in.  Naturally I was the only rider on a SS, and only Jeremy and I were were riding steel framed bikes.  I was thinking, "Man, these riders need to HTFU!" (o.k., not really, they were all very nice...and they were roadies, go figure!).  I was told by the organizer I should start with the 'C' group because of some of the big hills.  Surely this is because I am on a single-speed, I mentioned I don't really road ride, and honestly, I do not look that impressive.  I did my best to act like I was hurt by scrunching up my face like a just stubbed my toe.  I said, ooh, 'C' group?  Uh, I think I will at least start with 'B' group.  The B group was broken into two, so I took off with the first group for what was to be a ~24 mile ride.
I must admit, being that this was my first real road ride (other than commuting to work and back), the ride was pretty tough.  I was able to maintain a good cadence that kept me between 19-23 mph and I ended up leading for most of the ride.  Because it would hurt to slow on the hills, I powered up each one with everything I had, only to find that I had left everyone behind and then had to wait for them.  A couple of riders were having a tough time keeping up, causing us to slow and wait.  Eventually, we could see the 2nd 'B' group coming up behind us.  I hope I did not sound like too much of a jerk when the two started to fall behind again and I was told we should wait for them...I replied, that they should just fall back to the 2nd group so we can ride on.  Eventually we powered our way back to the church and finished the ride at an average of ~17.9.  Definitely could have pushed harder, but then I also had plenty of rest time, so who knows.  Maybe next time I try 'A' group, but I have a feeling that (as usual), I have no group, and will hopelessly by lost in some void between 'B' and 'A'.  Maybe I can make a B+/A- group for others like me.  Well, next time I will likely try the 'A' group, but they did average over 20mph.  Oh well, you don't know until you try.  At least I would be able to start the 'A' group ride with my steel framed brotha Jeremy. (until they drop me like a bad habit).
Lookin' forward to it. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

HTFU! Last SM100 Training Ride

So lately I have been calling my weekly endurance ride the HTFU Ride.  If you don't know what it means, well, it means Harden The "Freak" Up!  Sure, not everyone uses the word "Freak", but hey, my mom might read this.
26", 29" and 36" oh-my!
Today was the last of the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (SM100) prep rides.  We had the biggest turnout (12 riders) and I rode the most mile (71) ever for a training ride.  Sure it was hot (mid 90's) but hey, if you can't handle it, then you, sir or ma'am, need to HTFU!

The route consisted of 11 miles of some of the Piedmont's best single-track, followed by 20 miles of quadruple track (Umstead fire roads (~1000ft+ climbing every ten miles)).  This was done twice, with some hilly green-way miles thrown in the mix (in full sun) to get over 70 miles).

Highlight from today's ride:

  • Mass confusion during the first Umstead lap.  I guess I should have told everyone we were crossing the river for an out-and-back on Cedar Ridge.  As the kids say, "My Bad"
  •  A lot of Umstead eye-candy.
  • A Black Sheep 36er that rolled through the first half of the ride.  Pretty impressive considering it was his first "real" ride on that beast.
  • Me realizing that I had a plenty of small slimy chunks of mold floating around in my half-empty water bottle.
  • 12 people started the ride.  Four names beginning with the letter "M" and four with the letter "J" (honorable mention to the letter "B" with two names)
An example of the joggers throughout Umstead.

  • Eight, yes eight single-speeders. 
  • Did I mention all the Umstead eye-candy.
  • Three riders (all on single speeds) finished the odometer showed 71 miles. 

  • In spite of the heat 90+, there was very little complaining.
    Good Times.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Preparing for the 2011 Shenandoah Mountain 100

    So last week a group of us set out on a 55 mile fire road ride.  It was hot, most bailed by 30ish miles and as usual, I finished the ride on my own.
    This week the ride was going for a metric century (sounds better than 62 miles).  A group of around nine riders set out to ride 22 miles of single track and 40 miles of double track to mimic similar terrain conditions for Shenandoah 100 (SM100). 
    So who shows up for this ride?  Besides dome of the usual suspects, two newcomers (for my rides) JD, who snaked a $300 titanium frame away from me, and he shows up riding it (some nerve); and get this, he rode from Wake Forest (cukoo, cukoo).  And an old pal Bret shows up.  Here is a guy I was crushing in the beginner XC series two years ago.  Now he has buffed out (P90X) and kicking my but in XC this year.  Still, this is an endurance ride, so he is in my territory now!
    As usual the guys who were planning to  bail after ~30 miles set a pace faster than I wanted, but whatchagonado?  So we all kept pace for the first 11 miles of single track with the only notable events were watching one of the trail builders (let's call him Ennis), falling sideways into the water during a stream crossing (doh, rookie move).  We also ran into Mack and Brent on the tandem as they prepare for Shenandoah it is always a hoot seing those guys.  As usual, Dale was with them, riding his SS with pink streamers off the bars.  Not sure if that take a real man, or the opposite, but hey, it was entertaining.
    Back to the ride:
    When we hit the double track, I suddenly had a tough time keeping up with my geared brethren.  It became clear that my planned 32:19 gear choice for Shenandoah was going to leave me spinning on many sections of the trail.  It was pointed out that I am going to wish for a taller gear on the flat sections as guys will form pace lines and I won't be able to keep up.  I reminded them that flat sections (and downhills) are where I spin away and rest my legs for the climbs.  Going taller means suffering (more) on the climbs and eventually cramping.  My goal here is survival, so I will stick with 32:19 for this one.
    Wow, we lucked out with the weather.  Instead of getting hotter closer to noon, it actually cooled and started to rain.  When we ducked into the single-track for our 2nd loop, things were slick, but not messy and we were able to make decent time.  At one point I slid off a skinny and luckily caught my chain-stay right where my derailleur would have been.  I grinded across the board without falling into the ditch and made a nice recovery as I kept on riding.
    The last 20 miles of the ride were a grind (now with Kelly, Bret, JD and me).  Kelly kept reminding me that nothing we had ridden was as difficult as Shenandoah, and after the 60 mile mark, that is when the real climbing begins.  My legs did not feel great so I told him to STFU!  My confidence going into this event is not at an all-time high, and he was not helping.  To make matter worse, Bret, who once could not hang with me in XC, shows up to this ride just to see what he could do, and he is kicking my butt!  He and Kelly are constantly pulling ahead of me and then are slowing to wait up or I have to work extra hard to keep up.  Good for Bret, not so good for me.  How dare he show up to my ride, never having ridden that distance before, and the only thing that hurts is his butt from being in the saddle for that time-length.  Really, who does he think he is!  Clearly he did not once think of my fragile self-esteem and how I was affected by getting embarrassed by a newb.
    Still, when the ride ended, I felt so much better than the previous week.  Even though the ride was longer and tougher, the weather/temp. made it that much easier.  My legs felt better and no headache.  Next week the goal is 70+.  Ouch! My legs hurt just typing that.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Mountain Biking in the Heat....Meh.

    So it is hot out there; 90+ degrees with a 100% chance of sweat!  What are you going to do about it?  Sit in your air-conditioned home and complain about it (maybe watch Jerry Springer or Court tv) or are you going to go out and ride?  You already know my vote.  After all, I have always felt it is fine to ride in the heat as long as I don't over do it.  I found a decent article about just this topic.  Still, last weekend, after a 55 mile ride (that started at 7am, in order to miss the most intense heat) I had a headache for the remainder of the day. Could the heat have caused the headache?  Maybe grinding my teeth during the ride?  Maybe from the beer I chugged immediately after the ride?  Or maybe (my vote) it was not the heat (or teeth, or beer) but the lack of sunglasses.  I recall reading somewhere that being in the sun, squinting all day, can lead to headaches.  Another big ride the weekend (60+ miles), so maybe I try wearing some shades (and maybe some preemptive Advil) to see if I can fend off headaches.  If it doesn't work, I will try switching brands of beer (and drinking more of it).   

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    29er Online Specialized Bike Reviews

    Thanks to Alex who runs the 29eronline website, I have had the opportunity to ride a few bikes in return for providing an honest review from a regular Joe.   The first bike I rode was the Specialized Camber Elite, the 2nd was the Specialized Epic Carbon.  I had fun on the dispelled any worries I had about my new 29er build (coming August/September to a trail near you).  The next bike I reviewed was a Specialized Epic Carbon.  Ooh, daddy like!  I could go on, but why don't you just watch the darn videos?!?

    Specialized Camber Elite


    Specialized Epic Carbon


    I hate the way I sound on video (o.k., audio), but hey, it is for a good cause.  Thanks to my thought provoking, insightful review thousand of people...o.k., dozens of people...o.k., 'you' are now more informed.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Tahoe, Rides 1-3

    In order to save time (I'm lazy) and to make a long story short (rarity for me), I am throwing all three rides into one entry.
    This pic does not do the view from the deck justice.  We could see a lot of the lake, with sail boats, para-sailing etc.  Beautiful!

    Riding in Tahoe was AMAZING!  Though I have been to Tahoe many times, I have never ridden a mountain bike there; boy was I missing out.  From where I was staying (Dollar Point) I had access to a maze (literally) of trails.  My first ride started at ~6350' elevation.  I was lucky enough to meet a group just getting started at a trail-head at the Nordic Ski Center, and followed them up to what is called the 'Fiber Board Freeway' (old paved logging road) and then further up and onto the Tahoe Rim Trail and then up a bit further before a nice, but technical downhill.  After 18 miles, we were back to the start, so I set off on my own and re-rode most of the route just so I could remember it for another ride.  The group rode slow enough that the elevation was not really a factor (only felt it while climbing), and I ended my ride by jumping into the most beautiful lake in the U.S..  Total miles ~30.

    The next ride I took the same route from Dollar Point up to the Fiber Board Freeway and then to the Tahoe Rim Trail.  From there I made the poor decision to ride the TRT up to Watson Lake.  I was told the trail was not SS friendly, and it certainly was not.  A lot of technical climbing with a lot of slow, sandy trail.  Still, I pushed on (literally) and made it to the lake and back.  Total ride was only 25 miles, but much tougher than the ride two days earlier.
    Still some snow on them there trails.  You almost can't see my dirty white bike as it blends in with the dirty white snow.  Interestingly, a yellow patch of snow emerged shortly after taking this picture.
     For my last ride, I did the ride that everyone should do if they have a mountain bike in Tahoe, the Flume Trial.  To add more miles, and to make it more challenging (much more challenging than I thought), I started at Mt. Rose Summit about 3/4 up from the Tahoe Meadows trail head at 8900'elevation.  From there I bombed down Tahoe Meadows to the Flume Trail and rode the scenic trail to Marlette Lake; rode around the lake, then headed back.  It was all good until that dreaded, "What goes down, must go up" mtb rule came into play.  I was grinning ear to ear flying down the Tahoe Meadows I was grimacing ear to ear riding back up.  I realized too late that I spent so much time enjoying the scenery, that I did not eat enough calories (or drink enough water) to account for the extra elevation, and I was starting to bonk.  That coupled with many uphill areas with deep sand, made for a miserable climb.  Here I was on a 26" single-speed, on Racing Ralphs, with tubes.  I was wishing I was on a geared 29er with some beefy tubeless tires.  So I walked several sections, ate a bar and some jerky, and drank some water.  I also learned that though the temp. was in the 70's. being at that elevation, and in full sun the entire time, really takes it's toll on you, or at least me).  The ride ended up being ~33 miles of just amazing trails.  The pics do not do justice to the beauty of the landscape, but if have been there, then you know.  Looking forward to a return visit with more appropriate gear.  Great, great time.
    Nice view off the Tahoe Meadows Trail, almost to the Flume Trail.

    A rider I met at the trail-head was kind enough to stop and take this pic on my return.

    Tried to take a cool pic...ended up dropping the bike on my shoulder and rode back sore, with a large dirty grease stain on my left shoulder. :(   That'll learn me!
    Rode partially around Marlette Lake until some guys warned me the trail I was about to hit was not SS friendly.  They were pretty convincing, so I headed back to the picturesque Flume Trail.
    The Flume Trail signage as I return from Marlette Lake.  Seemed to be a popular resting spot for many.

    The Carson Valley on the opposite side of the ridge from Tahoe.

    That cool water is looking pretty good right about now.

    Relaxing with my thoughts...unfortunately, I don't have many thoughts, so it was a short break.

    Riding away.

    Because one shot of my arse is not enough, here is a close-up for you sick'os.
    You though Bin-Laden was dead?  You are wrong Infidels!  He is alive and well sporting a freshly shaved head and shredding the trails at Tahoe's highest summit!

    The best way to end a ride in Tahoe?  Duh, head straight to the beach and join the family for a swim.  Ahhh, so refreshing.  Good Times!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Auburn Ride #4 & 5

    Ride #4
    For this ride, I thought I would try ride #3 again.  I had fun bombing 3.5 miles down to the Confluence where many trails start, and saw a group getting ready for a ride.  Four guys, three in kits looking like they should be in the Tour D' France.  I struck up a conversation and they were cool about me joining them, but as always, I was immediately intimidated by the cool matching kits and shaved legs.  Fortunately, one guy was not wearing a kit, and I was glad to see the hair on his legs...I thought, maybe I had a chance to stay with this guy.   As soon as they started, I was in trouble.  The ride started with a mile of flat, sometimes technical trail on a ridge and they quickly left me behind.  When we hit the climb ~2.5 miles of up, up, up, I started gaining on them but quickly realized that I no longer had the 'Contador Bounce' as I was climbing and thus had to really gut it out.  I eventually caught two of them.  One of the riders, the only one on a SS (GF Rig), turned and said (in a surprised tone), "Hey, your still here?!?".  I told them I would hang on as long as I could, but not to worry about dropping me.  I continued my pace, and like true roadies, they were  not going to let me pass, so we  eventually caught the first two guys.  They stopped at the top of the climb, seemingly un-winded, to chat.  This allowed me some time to recover before hitting some rolling single track (Connector Trail).  Once again they quickly dropped me on the single track, but halfway though, I passed two of them like they were standing still...because they were standing still.  One guy had flatted which gave me the opportunity to catch the group and then rest at the end of the trail (4 miles).  Still, despite riding hard, I was struggling.  My legs are not use to so much riding, climbing and full sun.  Unlike NC trails which are mostly shaded, there is little escape from the sun.  In spite of dry heat (no real humidity), 90+ degree temps in full sun wears on you.  I decided to let these burners go and do a different ride.  I rode back to the Confluence, hit the relatively easy/moderate Quarry trail (follows the river) for an out-and-back, and then up Stagecoach and home (3.5 miles up).  Still a good ride with over 30 miles.  Interestingly, I felt great going up Stagecoach which made me think I was a chump for not trying to stick with 'The Kits's.  I could have kept catching them on the climbs (or when they flatted) and maybe stayed with them the enter ride.  I am bummed for not pushing myself harder, but I was having a tough time gauging my fitness knowing I had a long climb to finish the ride.
    Cest' la Vie.
    Back down, down, down Stagecoach...

    under the bridge on the Clementine trail...
    climb up, up, up, to the connector trail to the Forest Hill Divide Loop Trail...
    fly though this on the bombin' downhill...

    noticed an old quarry with a cool looking cave (look carefully) just off the trail...
    hit the bottom of the trail and rode across the confluence and up hwy 49...

    and hit the Quarry Trail which was thankfully flat for a stretch.

    Rode up a steep incline to part of the old quarry area (and met some nice hikers)...

    and then rode down to the cave.
    Rode a ways past the cave before turning around (Quarry Trail is an out and back trail)

    And then began the long climb up Stagecoach...
    Up, up, up to the start (at the In-laws house).

     Ride #4
    Same as Ride #1.  Snuck out early and was in constant fear of getting attacked by a mountain lion or bear (both have been seen in the area in the early morning)...but somehow survived.  Now a week off before hitting the trails at Tahoe Baby!!!