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.