Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...Just Not In That Order

Everyone wants 'The Bad' first: Getting injured AND getting employed has put a cramp in my conditioning. I was in the mid 160's for the Coolest 24hr Race. Just four months later I have gained back all the weight I had lost and find myself back to being in the mid-180's.

'The Ugly' reared it's head on a training ride as I try to get back into shape after being off the bike for several weeks nursing my knee injury. On a short, slow, easy ride at Hidden Falls, with a bunch of weekend warriors I hit bottom. I did not feel great in the morning (GI issues) but was excited about getting back on the bike so off I went. The ride was going o.k. but I started feeling hot and fatigued though it was not really hot and I had only ridden maybe 9 miles. We came to the toughest climb in the park (Deer Trail), a steep gravel/dirt road that goes up maybe .6 miles or so. I have two of the fastest times on this section including a surprising strava KOM. There would be no trophies today however. I began plotting up the hill, slowly. I was suffering. less than 3/4 the way up I had to dismount and start to walk. I just did not have anything. After a minute or so I sat down and tried to drink but instead ended up projectile vomiting whatever was in my stomach (mostly gatorade). So, I was not processing any liquids. Great.
Ultimately I ended up cutting the ride short, but on the last climb up to the parking lot (another former KOM, now 2nd out of 226) I ended up having to walk and ended up with more, violent, projectile vomiting in front of a family with two kids. I apologized as they walked by, rode past them, dismounted and hurled some more...and apologized again.
I feel fortunate to have made it home dehydrated and feeling half-dead. Cest la vie

The Good is that I have ridden several times since then, with the last two or three rides feeling stronger and the legs recovering better and better. I do still have all that weight to lose, but work is hosting a biggest loser amongst the employees this January. So I will just focus on riding and eating and hold off loosing weight until I can win something! Now if that is not being the biggest loser, I don't know what is.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let Us Ride!

Yes, Snow in Auburn. Seems like as good a time as any to test out the cold weather gear. Mikey and I set out with thoughts of riding the whole enchilada (or at least to FHDL) but with the thick snow and mud that we eventually ran into (not to mention the freezing temps) we only made it through less than half of the connector trail before turning back. I will say that having a SS did make for a challenging ride in the snow, though the 2.35 Nobby Nic tires with ~18psi rolled and gripped surprisingly well.
The best part of the ride? My knee felt fine, my toes and fingers did not freeze, the scenery was amazing and I was able to ride the two miles up a slick stagecoach trail with no problems at the end of the ride. Note that due to conditions, it took almost as long to get down stagecoach as it took to get up. Yes, starting to get my legs if only I can get my waist back. :p

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Time at Annadel & Rockville...Ouch, My Knee!

Took the drive with my buddy mike to Annadel State Park near Santa Rosa to meet up with a local mtb group for a ride on some new-to-me trails.  Riding the rigid SIR 9, I ended up with over 15 miles of some good riding with ~2000 feet of climbing, but unfortunately on the final decent toward the parking lot, I had to hit the brakes to avoid someone in front of me who had done the same, and I started to go over. I instantly grabbed the tree next to me to keep from completing the low speed endo, but instead when I dropped to the ground, my foot came down between two good sized rocks causing me to twist and slide a bit down the side of the hill. Then end result was a bit of swearing and a sore knee. I thought I must have struck it on something do to the sharp pain, but no blood. Uh-oh. We would all rather deal with a flesh wound that will heal quickly as compared to an internal wound that could mean surgery.
I tried to walk it off, and even stopped by Rockville and road several miles there. The knee pain shot up with any twisting motion (like unclipping) so I avoided that and finished the ride.

As I am writing this long after the fact, I can now tell you that I limped around for a couple weeks until my insurance kicked in. Eventually an MRI showed I have a slightly torn meniscus (who doesn't) and a severly sprained MCL. There was evidence of fibrous tearing but no 'rip' so rest, PT and all should eventually be well....though this knee hurt all the time before this (always the right knee for some reason) so cest la vie, life goes on!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Climbing Mt. Rose

Much like the Flume Trail is a 'must ride' for mtb'ers visiting Tahoe's North Shore, If you are a roadie (which I am not) then Mt. Rose is also a must ride. This ride involves a steady climb ranging from 5-9% grade for ~9 miles. The views, if you take time to enjoy them, are stellar (duh, it's Tahoe) and the fact that your elevation gain from ~6000' up to 8900' makes this even more of a HTFU challenge.
Vista Point a few miles from the start of the ascent.
I happened to be staying in Dollar Point, just outside Tahoe City, so my 2nd day there I woke up early, grabbed my 22lb road bike, and headed out toward Highway 431 (aka Mt. Rose hwy). It was my recollection that the ride from Tahoe City to the start of the climb was a relatively flat spin around the lake. I was wrong. There were plenty of short little ups here and there to get the blood flowing. I was really uncertain how much effort to put out as I was worried about bonking. A couple years before I did 30+ mile lollipop loop mtb ride from Mt. Rose around Marlette Lake and back. I felt the elevation and bonked hard late into the ride. I was able to finish on the saddle, but felt like crud. Still, I wanted to HTFU so when I hit the base of the climb, I shifted to a comfortable gear (34:24) and decided to SS the rest of the way, as this is more my comfort level. One thing I should point out is that when I started the climb, I initially thought it was 6 miles, not 9. Also, I like to play head games with myself, so rather than hoping the climb comes to an end around a bend, I tell myself that I need to get ready for a longer, steeper section. Well, this was fine until I realized I passed 6 miles with no end in sight. The whole time I felt like 'I got this' as I was never in any danger of bonking and felt pretty darn good. When I passed 6 miles and realized that I may have between 1 and 3 miles left, I was glad I kept the pace easy, though ultimately I could have pushed harder.
Made it to the top baby!
In the end, I made it to the top with no issues, took the obligatory photo under the 'Summit' sign and then headed back.
Ouch my hands hurt! I like long steady climbs...especially on the mtb. What I do not like is fast bombing downhills on a road bike (don't mind on the mtb). I am just not use to this bike and don't really trust it, or myself like I do on the mtb. I rode those brakes all the way down the mtn. eying spots where I could crash or streets to roll up when one or both brakes fail. I refused to get over 30 mph and kept changing hand positions as they were killing me! I eventually made it down and cruised back to the cabin for a 40 mile ride. Two weeks later, I hop on the road bike and my hands are still killing me. They hurt more after this ride than after my 24hr mtb ride. 
Next year I will have to up the goal to a 100 miler or a ride around the lake. I have until then to get my hands in 'brake shape' and maybe improve my courage on descents so I don't brake as much (but I doubt that will happen).
Next purchase for this bike? Disc brakes baby!

Just beyond the summit, a shot of Nevada.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The El Dorado Trail: Folsom to Camino--And Back!

Due to being unemployed this last year I decided to skip both the Mendocino 100 and the Tahoe 100 this year. So I thought I should go out and do something just as hard, but instead I Rode the El Dorado Trail for a 2nd time. I’ve Been wanting to ride the entire trail since I saw this thread, and I had some free time to git’er done, so I grabbed my wife’s bike (a.k.a. my backup bike), a beautiful, green, rigid SIR9 single-speed and headed out.

Parked at In-N-out in Folsom and after a quick trip through the bushes to Starbucks for a rest-stop, off I went at ~7:40 a.m. (forgot to check, but that’s close);  Placerville Rd to Payen to the trail. I recall that the first few miles were going to be kinda bumpy, but today it seemed like the first 10 miles were rough.
Naturally, there were occasions where I missed the trail and had to hike through some brush to get to it, or was forced to ride along the tracks for a spell until I could cut over to the trail, but all was well on the way up to Camino. I did not have a lot of time for the ride as I needed to be back in Auburn by ~5 so my plan was to stop as little as possible. I carried two bottles with 2hrs each of Infinite mix and 72 ounces of water in my pack. Thought that would be enough. Wrong! Anyway, no problems heading up to Camino. Navigated my way o.k. through Placerville and enjoyed the long steady climb up to the end of the trail (my first time past Missouri Flat Rd.). I made it to the end in just less than 4 hrs and enjoyed some of the fresh black berries and did a water check. I was down to 16 ounces of water and full bottle of Infinite. Not enough. Suddenly a bee started buggin’ me (no pun intended) and I realized I had forgotten my Epi pen, so I grabbed the bike and got the heck out of there.
This fence is the 'dead end' of the trail.

Fun (and restful) just coasting down to Placerville. Stopped at a gas station and emptied a liter of water in my pack and shared a liter of coke between my empty bottle and belly.
Definitely a faster ride heading back to Folsom. Stopped to return a call to my 72 year old mother who is driving her car across the US with her 80 year old friend (it should be a movie) and another stop to pick some needled out of my legs (I was getting tore up!). Still, all was going well…until that long bumpy stretch of trail. I did not remember it being so bad the first time I rode the trail. On the SS I am use to standing and pedaling for long stretches, but my legs were tired and it was hot. I decided I had to sit on the saddle regardless of the trail condition, so I gritted my teeth and took my pounding like a man. I noticed some birds circling overhead. I don’t know what there ‘caws’ meant, but I interpreted them as, “This guys not going to make it” and “I call dibs on his eyes…” so I stood again and picked up the pace. But now my rear end started to feel a bit squishy (my tire, not my butt you freak), but I pressed on.  I was almost to Payen and was not about to stop. When I finally crossed the RR bridge to and arrived at  Payen I saw that my rear tire was kinda flat. Screw it, I am going to press  on. Then after a couple minutes I noticed it was flatter, and I did not want to change it on a busier Placerville rd. So it was flat repair time, under the hot sun, on the blacktop, only a couple miles from my car. Thank God  it just needed some air. I pulled out some star thistle spikes, gave the tire a spin to seal the holes and it was good to go. Made it back to the car at ~3:20, in a total time of ~7:40.
Enjoyed a short break and a blackberry snack.

Now like many other riders, I Strava every ride. This was no exception. I saved the ride as usual and in several minutes the familiar trophy icon was present showing results ready. I pressed to see the results…and nothing. Unbelievable! My entire ride was gone. I mean, if a ride is not on Strava, did it actually happen? This has happened to me once before, but on a ride with my kids. I thought maybe I did something wrong. Strava also did not get all the data from the 24hr race a few weeks ago. I was (still am) pissed, sadden, disappointed and frustrated. I tried all the recommended tricks and ultimately put in a Customer Support Request, but I may need to accept that it is gone.  Oh well. I will wait to see what Strava support says, and in the end, I can manually input the miles, but I won’t get to see how I did on the segments, and I won’t get to make the cool new out and back segment that I was hoping for. I may just need to purchase a Garmin 510 (with my first pay check) and ride it again (next year?), but I am NOT looking forward to that.

Taken in Folsom at the end of the ride.

Star Thistle tore me up. Next time, long socks!

Proof of the ride. Taken after I realized that my ride may be lost in the the Strava-Zone

Riding time shown. Total time was ~7:40.

Averaged ~10.3 going up, and 12+ coming down for a total of ~11.3

Monday, June 24, 2013

The 2013 Coolest 24 Hour Race Against Cancer --3rd Place.

I had one goal coming into the Coolest 24 hour, to ride more miles than my first (and only) 24hr solo event 2 years ago. I knew I was in the best mountain biking shape of my life, but I was worried that my longest mountain bike ride leading up to this event was ~62 miles. In order to meet my goal I was going to need to ride more than twice that. 

I felt well prepared; I had my beautiful 18.8lb One9, and my wife’s former 1x9 SIR9 that I stripped down to a beautiful 22.5 lb single-speed. The SIR9 would serve as a back up bike should a major mechanical occur.
For food I brought half a pizza, two pbj’s, two roast-beef sandwiches (loaded with mustard), jar of pickles, Nutty Bars, Red Vines, Licorice, chocolate covered espresso beans, and of course 8 bottles of Infinite drink mix (1.5 hours of calories in each bottle) and plenty of water.

I showed up to the Olmstead loop on Friday evening and set up my easy-up next to another single-speeder who happened to be Sean Sullivan, who had just won the Hammerstein 24hr a few weeks ago and was a former podium finisher years ago in the 24hr Single-Speed World Championships. One thing I purposely did NOT bring was a tent, a mattress or any comfortable place to sleep. I had a small, uncomfortable camping chair and my cooler for a seat. If I was to pack it in and sleep, I would need to be so tired that I was willing to curl up and catch some Z’s in the foxtails and star thistle.
Next, I did something the importance of which cannot be underestimated: I went home and got a good night’s sleep in my own bed. I am sure that was better than hanging out, camping, drinking beer and crashing around midnight under a full moon that was like trying to sleep with a 100 watt bulb above you (I mean, did you see that moon, wow!). I woke up refreshed, loaded up the bikes and food, and headed out.
Let’s get to the race. I knew it would be a dusty start but I settled near the back because, well, I am gonna ride slow. As to be expected it was a log jam for the first few miles, and by mile 5 I settled in on the wheel of another biker and followed them until the big final climb. Time for the SS to shine. Up the climb I went, feeling good. I was surprised when I came across the line at 1:06 and realized that I needed to kick it down a notch. So much to my surprise I came across the next lap in 1:05 (doh!). I realized that on the final climb I was working a bit too hard and decided to pick my spots to push a few areas to save the legs. My new strategy was to push hard the first ¾ of the course as it was fast and flowy and and then literally push a few spots on the final climb and repeat. Of course as the laps came and went, the two spots I chose to push became three, then four and at one lap (maybe two) I hopped off the bike seven times. Still, to me it was irrelevant how many times I pushed as long as I kept moving. Even as night settled in, surprisingly, I never really felt tired (like I did two years ago), I just kept moving; but my hands, feet, knees and butt were getting really sore. My knees worried me the most as I have not experienced knee pain like this before. It was the same pain in both knees so I figure I am just overworking the knees leading to sore joints. I had the typical tightness in the right inner thigh that caused a few issues, and naturally some cramping in the quads and some stomach issues (threw up once, while walking, no big deal), but I was able to fight through that (o.k., walk through that) and keep moving.
One really cool thing happened just before midnight. It was ~11:45 and I looked at the speedometer and saw that I was at 99.8 miles. I could not believe I hit 100 miles before midnight. That was pretty cool. Still, by the time I was in the 11th lap, I was hurting pretty good. I knew I would reach my goal, so at this point, I started thinking, could I do 15? As I headed out for Lap 13, I realized I probably could not. I was suffering. It hurt to sit and pedal. It hurt to stand and pedal and just as bad, it hurt to walk. I was having a tough time braking because of my sore hands and I won’t even mention my sore butt. I knew all this went with the territory, but I had been suffering pretty good and had been managing the pain for a while. I just got to the point where I wanted it to end. Because It was so early I went out for one more lap, thinking I HTFU’d for 14 laps and over 157 miles…I could be proud of my effort. I crossed the line after 14 laps and stopped at the scoring tent, done. Some people were telling me good job etc. But one guy, a pit crew for another team, was not so convinced. He told me I had time for at least one more. I gave him my excuses, but then he did something odd; he grabbed my bike and started walking away with it and said “Your doing one more!”. I stood there looking at him and then I looked at the other riders who seemed as befuddled as I was. What seemed like only a minute later, the guy returns with my bike. He had cleaned and lubed my chain AND he brought me some pancakes with syrup folded up like a burrito. I ate the pancakes flexed my legs, arms and back and said, you know what, I am going out for another. He gave me a smile, patted me on the back and off I went. It was not a fast lap. I had no strength. The lap took me ~1:45 and I actually finished with enough time for a 16th IF I could do it in 1:45. I was not convinced I could so my race was over. I returned to my pit and it was not long before I saw Sean Sullivan cross the line and head out for #16. Because I did 15, he had to average ~1:13 a lap for his last three in order to take 2nd away from me. He averaged 1:10. He is a seasoned, experienced veteran, and a nice guy so I was actually happy for him. I more than exceeded my goal and know that podium spots are trivial to this event. There were three of us. I could have done one lap and take 3rd. Instead I far exceeded any goal I had with riding ~170 miles in 24 hrs and actually (inadvertently) making a tight race out of the SS category. I finished with 15 laps, 2nd place with 16 laps (with only 10 minutes to spare) and 1st place with 17 laps. What a day!
Getting awards, I'm the chubby guy in the middle. ;)
Big thanks again to Sean Sullivan  and his friend Kenny who kept me company in the pits and gave me a lot of support and encouragement. Big thanks to Pilar M. who kept coming over to my pit and moving my food and drink out of the sun as the day went on…and someone from her crew cleaned and lubed my chain after the 5th lap…and her corporate group and those around her kept cheering me on every lap, it was very encouraging. Thanks to my wife for helping me set up, showing up at night with our girls to show support and for allowing me to take the time to enjoy my hobby that means so much to me. Also, thanks to my buddy  Kane for showing up at the end (on his new carbon road bike) and helping me break down camp.

Thanks to Global Biorhythm Events for putting on this meaningful Cancer fundraiser. The course was well marked and the event seemed well run. The only real issue I had was that as a solo rider you are pretty much not going to get a meal. Dinner was provided at the Pizza place outside the event (no solo rider is going to do that) then breakfast was served at 8 a.m. so again, you would need to stop racing for breakfast. At least I got some pancakes, thanks to a kind stranger. It would be nice to be able to finish the race and have some hot food available, but no biggie. At least there was still some beer in one of the kegs that I used to wash down a burger my wife went out and purchased.
Still, the event wasn’t about the food. It is about challenging oneself and raising money for cancer victims. I am proud to be a part of this event and will look forward to it again next year...with a goal of 16 laps.
Good Times!

Pics to come (hopefully).

Monday, June 10, 2013

On The Road Again...

Well, sorta. For the last several weeks my road bike has been hanging in the garage, pouting, while I always chose to take out the Single Speed. But, with all the dust finding its way into my respiratory system during group rides I decided something had to change. The way I see it, I am left with only a few viable options.
1. Always be in the lead.
2. Only ride solo
3. Ride more road.
Because the idea of road riding to help with endurance training had been in my head, I decided to go with door #3. So, I signed up for a 36 mile, 14-16mph Sunday (Hammerin' Wheels road ride on the American River Bike Trail only to find out after I arrived, that it had been cancelled, Doh!. But did I care? No. I was there to ride, so ride I did. I hit the trail solo with a 100k goal (seems like a good #) and ended up with ~63 miles at ~17.6mph. As always, there was plenty of inspiration running and riding along the trail, gotta love California. :)  Sure this ride had no major climbs to speak of, but I did what I really needed to do; a long road ride with only two short stops (once to lower my seat and once to take a quick whiz) and the legs spinning the entire time.
After it was over I felt great (thanks to great weather and a flat course), I only went through 1.5 bottles (should have drank more, duh!) and best of all I was not completey covered in dirt. Sure, my road bike is ~3lbs heavier than my mtb, but it was a nice to mix it up...and now I am actually looking forward to my next road ride. Go skinny wheels! :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Exploring Cool's Olmstead Trail

So the upcoming Coolest 24 is actually going to be held in Cool, CA this year. "Uh, duh" you might say. But for those not in the know, the last few years has seen the race moved to the Soda Springs area. Apparently, it was held in May, and often rain made the event a muddy mess. So it moved to the higher elevation of Soda Springs but in late June so the snow has melted and the rain has stopped. Now they have moved it back to Cool, but left it in June. That means that it will likely be a scorcher. So today's hot weather ride was good practice.
Now having a 24hr event just several miles from my house is pretty cool (no pun intended), but not knowing that trail system at all is not cool, so off I went to explore.
The plan was to ride 4-6 loops of the trail. The race course map just came out (see below). In the past a lap was 9.8 miles. Now a lap is 11.2 miles; however, more single track was added and a double-track hike-a-bike hill was removed. Sound's like a good switch to me. I rode ~4 laps with some out-n-backs and some mini-loops but in the end I am sure that I piecemealed most of the course together. It was a hot one today, so when I crashed pretty hard during the 2nd lap (foot caught a rock and brought me straight down), I almost bailed, but then remembered this was a HTFU ride, so I went out for another two loops. When I saw it was 91 degrees, I decided to bag it at 4 laps. Good thing too as I started to feel the onset of cramps on that last lap (though I did push it hard knowing it was the last one). Still, good times. Now I just hope my mind and body cooperate for the 24. They are sooo much harder than one might think.

So here is the actual race loop, 11.2 miles and ~1175' vert. gain....

and here is my attempt at finding the race route over 4 loops; 45 miles and ~4200' vert. gain. I think the last lap got close.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hidden Falls Metric Century

So just this week something amazing happend, ~23 miles of multi-use trails opened at Hidden Falls Regional Park in addition to the few miles aready in existance (it's a good time to be a mtb'er in Auburn). The official opening was Wednesday, so Thursday night a I went with a small group to preview the trails...hit ~15 miles of fun mostly swoopy single-track. But I did not wantto stop there....

In prep for an upcoming 24, I needed a big ride, so I signed up for a Hammerin' Wheels Meetup ride but posted that I was not leaving the park until I hit 60 miles. One sucker guy, Dave, was foolish enough to meet me at the park at 5:30 a.m., and off we went. We started with all lefts and eventually, after ~14 miles, ran into none other than Kane. For some quick background, I was known as Mr. HTFU back in NC (for reasons I'll go into at another time), well Kane is Mr. HTFU here. He enjoys long rides that punish your legs and body. Funny then that he called me at ~4:40 to tell me he turned off his alarm...I told him to meet us out there when he could, and he did.

So the three of us set off for more exploration and more miles. We eventually met up with Mike, and the four of us continued the journey. Mike knew the trails well (as he had worked on them...thanks Mike!) and led us on every square inch of single-track and service roads to ultimately get what ended up being ~61 miles (for Dave also). I think Kane ended up with ~45 and Mike with ~36...all respectable considering the elevation out there really sneaks up on you.

Hidden Falls offers fast swoopy flowing trails with fun downhill runs and short uphill accents. There are no long, sustained 2-3 mile climbs like in the Auburn State Recreation Area, but there are many .5 to 1 mile accents that, while not technical (not fighting rocks and roots) still pose a nice challenge to the legs and when done dozens of times, you find yourself with over 1200' vertical gain per ten miles. Not too shabby. Strava had me at ~61.3 miles w/just over 8,000' so, all in all, not a bad day on the bike.
Hidden Falls Highlights:
-Trails are fast, flowy and fun. They are a bit wide (and bumpy in spots), but in time they will groove & grow into nice single track.
-There are very nice views on certain stretches of trail. Some trails do seem quite alike, but after riding them for a bit, you begin to recognize that there are many sections with distict characteristics, and the many bridges are cool.
-Great place to log some serious training miles. Sure there is a lot of nice new single-track, but you really need to loop back and repeat sections to hit it all. If you are not apposed to some service road riding, the North and South Legacy loops will provide an extra 10-12 miles to your ride...We did that twice. :)
-You park at the top and drop down to the trails. This means that you will always need to HTFU and finish your ride with a mile+ climb. Always a good way to finish a ride. Note: most pics taken from mtbr courtesy of bycyclist. Strava info here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

24 Hour Training, Back On Track

 Ah, That's More Like It.

So last week my long ride had me visiting Bonkcity and Cramptown. My confidence was shaken, and I did not feel all that well during a short mid-week ride (at easy Granite Bay). So before this ride, I did everything I could to be better prepared. I ate a larger breakfast consisting of a greek yogurt, a hardboiled egg and two leftover pizza slices (and packed one slice for later). I also brough an extra 23 ounce bottle of Infinite and an extra ~15 ounces in the camel-back.

Ended up riding farther, faster and with more vertical gain than last weeks wall-slammer, and I felt great afterwards. I think the temps being ~15 degrees cooler also helped.  ;)
Glad to get that behind me as there are now only 4 weeks remaining until the Coolest 24, and two weekends of big rides before I start tapering off a bit.

Also been better at adding either Pilates' or Tae Bo (don't laugh, it works) to any day I am not on the bike or trainer. Hoping to get my core solid (solid, beneath the ever present layer of fat, that is) and be as ready as possible for my first solo 24 in a couple years, and its only several miles from my door. Nice!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Post PMBAR Ride...Worst I've Felt on a Bike in Years.

So, after PMBAR (see previous post), I felt pretty good physically. Definitely could have ridden harder/faster. So after flying in I do a Trainer ride on Thurs. and plan an HTFU ride for Saturday.
So, inspired by this thread on MTBR, (and Mr. Tryone Shoelaces a.k.a. Ron S.), I set out today for an HTFU ride.

My Niner One9 is still in pieces having flown back late Wed. and stripping down all the parts for cleaning, so I grabbed my wife's bike (Niner SIR9 1x9) and off I went. My plan was to keep the bike in three speed mode the entire ride (34:17,20 & 23). Yeah, that didn't last long. On a normal Auburn out to Forest Hill Divide Loop (FHDL) and back, I would use two bottles (~46 ounces). Knew it would be warmer so I grabbed three. A check of the weather the night before said high of 80. Wrong ended up in the mid 90's (doh)! And why did I grab only three when I already planned more than the usual Auburn loop? Idiot! I realized my mistake before I turned down Drivers Flat. My realization was more than Validated as I was heading up M.Ponderosa. Unlike local studs like Ron, who surely jet up these long, steep climbs, I took my time to enjoy the views as well as some quality time with the bugs trying to eat off my skin or suck my blood. Naturally I ended up in granny gear quickly and still ended up off the bike at least three times. Two were from bad shifting and one was from an evil bug who led my into the side of the mountain. As I recall there was one more because my legs just were not there.

 It was so weird. Was it jet-lag? Maybe my small breakfast (some Kefir and handful of walnuts)? The heat? The rationing of water? That I was wearing a new 'low on the back' pack? The heavy, geared bike that never seemed to be in the right gear? Whatever it was, I was struggling. The last part of M.Ponderosa was a welcome sight; mostly flat and SHADED! Made it back to FHDL (mostly downhill, yeah!) and on to the connector trail. I had little energy and even less strength. As my rationing left me with half a bottle, I decided to cut the ride short to avoid the two mile Stagecoach climb and just go out on top of Culvert down to the Forest Hill bridge and home. Fortunately (or unfortunately) at the top of Culvert I ran into a godsend who offered to fill my bottle from her bladder (an angel actually ...and by bladder I mean from her pack, she did NOT pee in my bottle (sicko's)) so I decided to HTFU and head to the bottom and up Stagecoach. MISTAKE! Made it up over the hump and thought I might spin my way home but then the cramps began. Tried to ride/fight through them but then the left leg locked up. Barely made it off the bike and started hoofin' it, in the blaring sun, for a few minutes. Repeated this scenario again before I was finally able to ride out, fighting off cramps the entire way, and finally up Lincoln Rd. and then home.

So, my original though was "Anything Ron can do I can do.....slower". Oh, and for comparison for my NC friends, Ron (or Tyrone Shoelaces) is a local riding stud (think Kelly K. or Stranix, Dickey etc.(. Anyway, I might have to reassess that thought. But in the meantime I will simply chalk this up to a bad day on the bike. It happens. Now off to put that SS back together and maybe try this ride the Fall.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PMBAR 2013

Ah, the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race. The event where teams of two spend the entire day (and for some, part of the night) navigating to a certain number of checkpoints scattered across Pisgah National Forest, then back to the start as quick as possible. Though it was cold, wet, muddy and slow, it still endedu up another successful PMBAR for Jay and I (since our only goal is to finish).
This year's PMBAR was trickier than most. Now living in CA, I flew into Raleigh late Wed., did a preride with a great group of guys (and gals) Thurs. and then off to the Blue Ridge Mtns. on Friday. The forecast for this PMBAR was rain and pain. both came, but luckily more rain, than pain.

Eric, the brains and director of this event usually has some twist to each PMBAR and this year was no different. For the first time in several years, this year had 7 checkpoints to choose from. Five must be reached (including 3 mandatory) and back to the finish within 14 hours. Last year Jay and I had issues choosing a route then making wrong turns costing us at least an hour or more. This year we were determined to get a good route from the get go and stick with it. WRONG! Rather than bore with details, I will just let it be known that our route changed on the fly at least 3 times during the event. Our route ended up being 1. Avery (out and back) 2. Up Pilot and down to Laurel. ** Grilled Cheese and Coke--thanks Stephen Janes and Trips For Kids WNC** 3. All the river crossings to Bradley Creek/Turkey Pen. (Thanks Chris for directions, whoduthunkit?) 4. Cantrell Creek up to Squirrel Gap. 5. Up and over Black then off to the finish.

Things started out slow. The hike-a-bike came early and often. Still, the pace was decent and we were on our way to our best finish...then it started to rain, hard, and things got even slower. We still could have had a best finish but Jay was hurtin' a bit and I have never seen him look so miserable. The walking increased and the slow riding increased. The last checkpoint up and over black was entirely walked.  I rode most of the decent, but we had to finish together and I had forgotten from previous years that Jay is not a great descender of Black Mtn. when he is tired. Add cold, wet and muddy conditions...fuhgetaboutit! We eventually rolled in about 8:30 p.m.. Jay made a line straight back to the campground feeling a bit hypothermia'ish (shaking uncontrollably). I felt fine other than I could not feel my left foot and wished I could not feel my right (toes were numb and stinging at the same time), hands were cold...but hey, it was cold and wet so whatchaexpect. A hot shower and some pizza helped. Unfortunately the feeling started coming back in my left foot and the toes, and ball of both feet started to really hurt. I was seriously missing the numbness now. Sleeping in a leaky tent that night with wet feet (even more wet as I stood in ankle deep water to take a wiz at 2 a.m.) Did not matter as the tent was leaking on my feet all night. Then breaking down camp in the pooring rain...the feet did not get dry until Sunday night. Good Times!

SO, Jay insisted this was his last PMBAR, but maybe he will come around. He thought maybe I should do it with someone else to see how fast I can get in. We will see. So this could be our 4th and final PMBAR together, but hopefully not the last PMBAR for each of us. One thing I can say is that Jay has been a grrreat partner over the years. Both in training rides together and during PMBAR. He did not complain when I DNF'd us out for falling on my bike while walking across a river so I cannot complain for his playing it safe with all the hike-a-bike. Still, it is clear that riding out here in the Sierra Foothills has made me more prepared for this event than ever and I honestly felt as if I did not even have a decent ride when it was over...more like a really long hike in really bad shoes. Of course if the pace was pushed I would feel destroyed, but then that is what you expect after a PMBAR, so maybe next time.
Click Here for the Strava Link(~52 miles ~10,000 ft.)

Great to see old friends at PMBAR, though in the rain there was not the usual big gathering at the finish like in years past. Sorry to my friends Steve and Chris who's teams both achieved the 5 checkpoints but the cold was getting to them and the time was running out so they likely did the smart thing taking a DNF. Nothin' to be down about considering the conditions. Hoping for better conditions next year.

Here are a few pics from this year.
The bike survived the flight, yeah!

Jay and I made the Podium! Well, before the race anyway.

Careful, it's slippery.

No privacy on the top of Pilot.

It was friggin' cold up there on Pilot Rock.

One of many, many river crossings.

Almost there!

The final river crossing (on Bradley Creek) was a deep one.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Kane diggin' the Subaru out of the snow.
From Harmony Ridge Market: Round Mountain-South Yuba-Pioneer...A BEAST OF A RIDE!

The toughest HTFU ride since moving back to NorCal. Four of us (Kane, Terry, Simon and I) set off on this beast of a ride to Round Mountain to South Yuba to Pioneer Trail. This ride involved ~52 miles of poison oak covered single-track mixed together with some poison oak infested paved road and gravel roads that earned us 8000+ feet of climbing. There were tough switchbacks, fast rolling single-track, and super tight single track that is not meant for a beginner.
Simon drew first blood. ~14 miles in, on a tight piece of single track, he had one foot clipped in, one out and oops, he leaned the wrong way. Fortunately, he only fell several feet down the ravine toward the river, his bike, however, tumbled end over end much farther. Amazing that Simon only ended up with some lacerations on his lower legs; and his bike came out relatively unscathed. He Hardened The F. Up and rode on.

Arm warmers keeping the poison oak away.
The next trip down the ravine was Kane's. On a fast narrow downhill he caught a bit too much of the edge and the dirt gave out. Luckily for him it was all loose dirt and he was able to slide with his bike about 15 feet down and only suffered a nice leg bruise and some trail rash.

While Kane is always a monster, Terry was just eating up the technical single track climbs while Simon was simply pushing himself to finish his longest ever mtb ride. We all took turns at times hanging with Simon to keep him going (but he was determined). His longest ever mtb ride was 35 miles, so he was hurtin, but hanging like a champion!

Getting ready to hit South Yuba trail
After reaching the town of Washington at 35+ miles in (we thought it might be 25-29 miles in), with three of us nearly out, or completely out of water, we refueled at the local store (I applied Technu for the 3rd time) and set off on the last climb of the day, a 5+ mile paved climb with tough switchbacks and steep inclines. This climb was my highlight of the day. I attacked the climb like any other, just trying to keep my momentum up, sitting as much as possible but standing an awful lot. The next thing I new, I could not see anyone behind me. I keep pushing it, my legs were screaming but I was not listening. I knew this was the last major climb of the day so I was selling out! Started to get the cramp vibes with ~ a mile left but was able to ride through them and whatdoyouknow a Strava KOM on that climb! Helps that only 5 people have registered a climb, but I'll take it!!!

Kane and Terry waited up for Simon and eventually we hit the Pioneer trail for the last several miles of mostly fast, downhill, flowy fun.  Unfortunately, due to my long wait at the top of the climb, Strava cut-off (should have paused it apparently) so the last 10 miles are lost, but whatever. An Epic ride with good guys, and great prep for PMBAR and other upcoming events.

Pausing for a photo opp

The snack that powered me to a KOM on the final climb

Simon's bloody legs after his spill

Terry crushing a switchback up the final climb

Chillin' with a killer view of the canyon
Lower right of pic, Simon is climbing back up after his spill