Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 North Cackalacki Caddywompus Single Speed Rally

Yes!  That time of year when single speeders (over 21 of course) from around the county (and state) come together to enjoy some fellowship, Single-Speed Mtb style. The days events started with meeting near an Ale house (important for post ride grub), getting our 6 pack entry fee ready, then riding along a highway to get to the trail.  Yeah, a bunch of single-speeders spinning along a highway, dressed like we were going to a frat party...we turned our share of heads.  Interestingly, when we arrived near the trail, rather than riding down to the trail head and riding to the gathering spot, we followed our fearless leader (let's call him Banjo) into the woods as he decided to braid/bushwhack a path through the woods, over vines and sticks, and dodging fallen brush and dead trees until we eventually came to part of the actual trail that got us close to where we were going, just so we could bushwhack again.  There at the gathering spot was a strategic hole in the ground with bags of ice awaiting the 6 pack offering that we were all carrying (This was prepped ahead of time by another one of the leaders/organizers...let's call him Karate Monkey).  For the record, I only brought 5 beverages, but 4 were Guinness 14.9 ouncers (the other was an Amstel Light...maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that).  Anyway, there was plenty of PBR thanks to the organizers, but I stuck to the Guinness and the Chubs (darn good beverages).  At this point, I could go on, but I think it is best if I just say that everyone left the woods safely and we had one heck of a good time. To many details would just ruin the mystique of the event...some pictures, however, would add to that mystique, so here they are (I only wish I had taken more).


Getting ready...this should be the first pic.

Scary man exiting the woods.

Uh-oh, I think he spotted me!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feeling Fatigue--Need More Rest?

Notice the small slobber spot? Rest is good. 

So the last month or so I have not felt that great.  It started a week before Warrior Creek and has lasted up to this very day.  My energy seems high, but my strength seems low.  I just do not have that extra pep in my legs that usually exists after a's as if I'm not recovering well from the exertion.  It seems my muscles just do not want to do the work that they once did.  Is it over-training?  I doubt this as I only ride my Single Speed mtb twice a week (though I do ride my Single Speed road bike twice a week also).  I do average ~420 miles a month, total so I think I will take it a bit easier over the next two weeks.  Could it be (as a friend suggested) parvovirus B-19 (fifths disease)?  I suppose that is possible as there was an outbreak at school, but for this long? Could it be the 6 hours sleep I get a night (yawwwn)?  Regardless, I am going to keep on riding.  Really, felt like crap this last weekend when I struggled through the end of a 286-Rocky Road-286 ride.  Normally a 30 mile single track ride like this would not be a problem, but my legs were struggling and I started cramping toward the end of the ride (and that usually doesn't happen until 40+miles).

Today I rode an easy 40 through Umstead and felt o.k..  With PMBAR and the Burn24 coming up, I NEED MORE POWER!!!  Hopefully all will be well soon.  Ready or not, here I ride!

Note: On the plus side, my sore bicep tendon (that has plagued me for the last several months) has not been aggravated in some time and seems to be on the mend.  Though it still lets me know it is there, I am able to ride and even clear logs (and the 286 rock) again without pain (yeah!).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Do I Need a Heart Monitor?

I bought one, but after a couple of uses I decided to sell it on tmtb.  Another rider (for the sake of anonymity, let's call him Carter) tried to talk me out of selling the monitor.  His post is below:
You really ought to think about keeping that.  As much as you train, I think you'd find that it would help-a lot!  When I was halfway serious about riding, I used one to keep from riding too hard all the time.  It was astonishing how much better I rode when I wasn't overtrained."

Here is my response: 
Ha, I am glad some people think I actually train hard, but honestly I don't train as much as you think.  In fact, I don't train at all really; I just ride once mid-week and once on the weekend.  I guess I don't care much about my heart rate zones, power usage, intervals, diet or whatever really good riders do to improve performance.   I suppose that if I started with my diet and got my weight down, then started seeing improvements in strength and endurance, I might think, “Hey, what else can I do to get better?”  But how much better can I really get given my schedule?  Maybe I go from top 15 in a race like Warrior Creek (>40 or SS) to top 10?  I think I will probably take the top 15 (or 20) and still be able to drink New Castle, Oatmeal Porters and other fine Brown Ales.   I also must accept that I am not really a gadget/data guy (though I wish I had the patience for it).  Plus, no one can accuse me of riding too hard all the time, just ask any of the guys I have ridden with and they will surely agree that I do alright for an old, short, fat, bald single-speeder, but working 'hard enough' is more like it, definitely not too hard. 
I will say that I do have a plan to get rid of my gut, though I am currently experiencing a set back thanks to two days in a row of “Eat All You Can” (or All You Can Eat…same thing) Restaurants last week, plus an end of the week work gathering that basically involves sitting around drinking, eating and complaining.  Think of it as an 'eat, drink and complain all you can' event.
Somehow, I think I have digressed... and now, for some reason, I am suddenly hungry…what were we talking about again?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reminiscing, My First Race

1st ever race...and winning!
 After my finish at Warrior Creek last week, I was recently reminiscing about my first real race, a race I surely will never forget.  While the January Mountain bike Marathon was my first mtb event.  The XC race at Little River in 2009 (part of the Triangle XC Series) was my first official race.  Naturally, I was so nervous the night before, I had a tough time sleeping.  Plus it had rained pretty good the day and night before the event so many thought it might be canceled.  Still, I got up early and drove out to the trials (north of Durham) to see what I could do.  I remember registering and seeing that the 'Beginner >35" was the largest category.  Great!  More of a chance to embarrass myself.  I actually inquired about dropping down to the <35 category, as there were only ~8, and an 8th place finish sounded a lot better than 17th.  Well, Andy Etters (who put on the event) convinced me to stay in my category, which I did.  Being my first race, it was nice to see so many loose riders at the start, it helped calm the nerves...a little.  And We're Off!  Man, people jumped out of the gate fast.  I had a tough time clipping in, and the next thing I know, most of the riders are ahead of me, and flying!  I knew I could not keep up with that pace so I accepted that I would plug along and just do the best I can.  Funny, but it only took the first log crossing to catch up to several riders.  Someone stopped for it and created a back log.  Next thing I know I am passing some guys...then as I continue, I began passing a few more guys who obviously went out too fast...I was relieved that I did not try to stay with them, or that could have been me struggling for air as we work up a steady climb.  By the time the first lap was over, I realized that if I could just keep my pace, I would finish in the top half, and thus not embarrass myself, sweet!  As the second lap began I passed another couple riders and then found I was riding by myself.  I eventually passed one more rider who was stopped by the side of the trail, seemingly messing with their helmet?!?  No time to stop and chat...I started pushing as hard as I could knowing that this was it!  I came up on the heels of another rider, with maybe a mile or less left.  He asked what category I was in.  Turns out he was in a category that started a minute or two ahead of mine.  He said, "I think you are in first, no one else has passed me in >35".  Upon hearing that, a surge joy came through me.  I passed him and hammered it to the line as hard as I could.
Unbelievable.  The first race I had ever entered, I had won.  I was dumbfounded, but little did I know, it would be the last race I would ever win.
The guy I passed on my final lap (messing with his helmet), Kurt Dressler (one heck of a nice guy), would beat me in the next two races (Tarwheel & Huck a Buck).  I would then cross ahead of him at Harris Lake where we both moved up to Sport, just for helped that he got caught up in a misdirection mishap early in the race.  And then he beat me at the Championship race at Beaver Dam...but in my defense, I was coming off not riding for a couple weeks thanks to the Swine Flu and ended up 4th.  Still, nothing can take away that first race and that only victory.  Something I will never forget. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Warrior Creek, 2011

Yeah, I got in!  I Think they sold out in a day or so?!? 
I decided to race Warrior Creek because I heard it is a fantastic event (and I can confirm that); however, the weather leading up to the race (mucho rain) was pretty daunting.  I decided not to go with my faster rolling wheels (WTB Wolverine/Maxxis Larsen combo), and instead go with Nevegals (front and back), which ended up being a good choice.  I was not going to let being sick all week with a cold (stuffed up, cough...) keep me from this event so off I went.  We arrived in the area on Friday and rode a small section of the course and it was a bit slick, but tacky and not bad.  It then poured that night (making for a bad nights a tent...cold...raining...coughing...forgot my memory foam pillow...geese mating or fighting right outside) anyway, I was pretty happy to have some good gripping, mud-slingin' tires (and a 32:18 gear ratio).
Lap One:
The first lap of the race was a mess for your weekend warrior, types.  The start took us for ~1.5 miles on paved road through the campsite to help spread out the riders.  While this was better than nothing, so many racers ended up stuck on each others tires for miles.  Stop and go/walk and go was the theme for lap one.  Plus, being on a single-speed and being stuck behind geared bikes made it tough trying to keep momentum up hills while gearies are letting their bikes slow to match their gear choice.  After about 8-9 miles I found myself with a decent group that would keep me from blowing up and I ended up riding with them until one of the guys in front took another guy out by wrecking in the rocks past mile 11. If I had been following too closely I would have been in a 3 bike pile up, as it was, I cleared them and found some space for the start of lap 2.
Lap Two
Wow, I just went from major traffic to trail Nirvanah!  The temp. had risen and the trail was already in better shape.  I found myself riding all alone for almost 3 miles (or at least not inhibited).  I passed a few riders and really began enjoying the stress free environment.  Eventually some guys did come up behind me, and I stuck with them as long as I dared, but my goal was to ride consistently for at least three laps and then see what was left in the tank/legs.  So I kept to riding within myself and eventually hooked up with another rider that was going my pace.
Lap Three
I had finished my bottle of Perpetuem and a bottle of NUUN and our wonderful pit crew (Vanessa) handed me off some more NUUN.  By mile 2 I started to feel "I need to puke" sick.  I sipped on my water when I had the chance and kept going...feeling like if I did throw up, it would not affect my legs, and maybe help me in the long run (errr, ride).  Did not end up puking, but the stomach issues stayed with me even for a bit after the race.  I felt like I was going pretty good this lap.  The trail was even more improved, and I was making it up sections that earlier were to muddy and causing me to spin out.  Then it happened.  Just past mile 9 I started to feel the onset of cramps.  I did what I could to fight them off, but I had to get off the bike twice over the last two miles (to push up a switchback climb) as my left leg was quivering.  Still, I had plenty of energy and could spin well, I just couldn't work too hard mashing up a bring on lap 4.
Lap Four
Grabbed a bottle of 4:1 Energy for my last lap to help with the cramping, but unfortunately they were not getting any better.  I rode as fast as I could where the trail dictated it, and rather than working hard up hills, I would grind up them, using just my body weight on the pedals to inch up (still faster then pushing) but I did get off the bike (a lot) to keep from locking up.  I counted over the 12 miles of the final lap, getting off the bike exactly 12 times.  By the time I hit the 9th mile marker I was fight cramps in both legs, and in various areas of each leg.  Still, I could fly on the downhill berms and clear the rocks cleanly so I worked as hard as I could to get that last lap in, but finished at 5:40...ten minutes too late to go out for a 5th lap.

Realized after the race that I mixed nearly 5 hrs worth of Perpetuem in my bottle...stomach was rejecting all the concentrated protein.  Gonna try to tweak my nutrition for the next race with a lot less protein and a lot more carbs (Heed?).

I honestly believe that if the trail was in peak condition, cramps would have held off longer and the laps would have been faster...likely leading to five laps.  As it was, I rode ~49.5 miles in ~5:40 and my time was good enough for 13th in the 40+ division.  So, all my goals at the onset of this race were met: don't get hurt, don't have a race-ending mechanical issue, don't embarrass yourself.  EDIT: Just saw the final standings had me at 14th in 5:43.  Guess I should have waited to see the final results as I could have protested...the clock clearly stated 5:40 when I crossed.  Oh well, it really does not matter.  The prize for 14th is the same as the prize for 13th. :)

Looking forward to next year. 

NOTE: An amazing rider, (Kelly K.) asked me to be a part of the TFKT-Trips for Kids Team, so He, Jeff (another amazing rider) and I (not nearly as amazing) were riding with our TFKT Jerseys to represent a great cause.  Kelly ended up 5th in SS for a race that was not part of his scheduled race plan, and Jeff ended up 3rd (podium spot baby!) in the 40+ division...on his rigid single speed (and a massive wreck on lap 5).  Great Job Team!

A quick "Great Job" to Cory, who I drove up with.  He completed three laps for his first ever 6hr race.  he could have done one more but I guess he did not want to show off.  Nice effort Cory!