2017 Big Frog 65

I had some time to write this after I returned home from the race, but I was trying to not get in too much of a hurry. I was really not sure what I wanted to write and I wanted to give myself some time to let everything sink in and what it really means to me. I’m still not clear on how or what I feel about this years race. I know, I know. I keep getting told this or that and that I’m too hard on myself. Who else can be my worst critic but me?

A fun group to ride with at any time. Spirits were still high for me at the pre-ride

We made it to the whitewater center fairly early Friday. Took care of getting checked in and dropping off our drop bags. Some of the group we were expecting showed up and next thing I knew several people were ready to ride. I thought we were waiting on the rest, but the ants in the pants could not sit still long enough. We did the same ride that we did last year. Head up the road and do the first part of the race to the bridge. It was long enough to get a fair ride in and get the legs moving.

We then headed to our home for the weekend. We stayed in a really nice cabin that was not much more than 10 minutes from the start. We cleaned our bikes up and got them ready. Then we headed out to meet up with some others for dinner. We had a lot of laughs and the food was good enough. I way trying to minimize the amount of beers I drank and to make sure and drink plenty of water. I feel like I did fairly well on the water, but hard telling if I really did good enough.

Bikes all ready to race. Hanging out on our awesome deck.

After getting back to the cabin, most of us were busy getting things ready for the next morning and hanging out a little before going to bed early. We had to leave earlier than everyone else since we had a 100 miler in the group. As usual morning came pretty quick and I set to getting ready. I ate what I had planned and was ready to go in time and we headed to the start. I went and watched the 100 milers take off before getting the rest of the way ready to go. Before I knew it time came come to get up to the start line. I was really hoping I remembered to pack everything I had planned

After a few words and a prayer, the race was off. Up the long road to warm up. I tried to not go too hard and to really keep an eye on my heart rate. I figured I could easily blow myself up in the first 3 miles. I felt like I was going too easy, but convinced myself to not go too much harder. The top of the hill came up and we turned in to the woods. I felt like I did a good job with my pacing. I made a few passes on some riders that seemed to be going slower than I wanted. I was then stuck behind a few riders that had moments we were going too slow. There was starting to be a few people behind me and I heard some grumbling. I found a good place to pass and moved up to find the next group.

I kept looking at my heart rate and it was staying in the range that I wanted it to be. I was feeling pretty good and pretty happy about my game plan so far. As I rolled in to the first aid station I had to pee. Took care of business and topped off my one water bottle. I knew it was going to be a hot day and didn’t want to run out of water. I saw Lovins come in to the rest stop and keep going. I took off right after and soon enough I made my way up to him. Shortly after joining him we both joined Cooper. The three of us rolled together to the 3/4 aid station skipping the 2nd stop.

At this point I tried to eat, drink and take care of myself. I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was ready to take off, but not everyone was done so I waited a little bit so we could all start together. As we did this loop section I started to feel my legs some on the first climb. It was 3+ hours in to the ride, so it was not a complete shock. I backed off a little and tried to find a pace that worked for me. Cooper was riding really strong and was pulling off the front. Lovins was not dropping too far behind him, but the both of them were leaving me pretty easily. In hind sight, I could have done either of these two things. I could have left when I was ready and they would have caught me or I really should have taken more stuff in at that point so I would not have faded as much. It is really hard to say what would have been better.

The second climb in this section was very tough for me. It is a pretty good climb and it seemed like the trees were not blocking any of the sun. I felt like I was in a convection oven. I was really feeling cooked. I tried to keep eating and drinking, but I am pretty sure it was too late. I already let too much of a gap in the cycle somewhere and now I was going to pay for it. I kept moving, but at a slower pace than I wanted. This section really seems to drag on and even worse when you start feeling bad. I was very hot and could not cool down.

Eventually I rolled back in to the 3/4 aid station. Feeling more tired than I wanted to and starting to feel like my legs wanted to cramp. I saw Cooper here, but he was getting ready to take off. He said I would catch him, but I knew better. I took a little more time here and tried to take in stuff that would help me snap back. My brain was not doing too good at this point. I was already feeling defeated as I knew I was going slower than I wanted. I was already disappointed that I was not going to make the finishing time I had hoped.

I really don’t know what was wrong with my brain, but I sure didn’t do several things that I should have done. Example, I didn’t even get in my drop bag. I had several things in there that might have made a difference, but decided against it. I didn’t really look at what was on the table to eat either. I had already put failure in to motion and I was doing everything I could to make sure it was going to happen.

The climb back out of 3/4 is always tough. I had moments where I could jump on a wheel and pick the pace up. I felt pretty good at those points, but I could never hang on long enough. Eventually I would get dropped on one of the inclines. This section drug on for a long time. It is hard to tell what was before or after the rest stop at the bottom since I have never stopped there. You are rolling along too good to worry about stopping. I eventually saw a few landmarks that were familiar and knew I was going to be at the last aid station soon.

I rolled in to there and topped off my bottle. I looked around at what I could take in. I really don’t remember if I ate much or not. I had already lost my crap pills out of my pocket and should have picked something up that would have helped. At this point I had no idea where my brain was. I know what I needed to do, but I just kind of looked around and stuff and didn’t eat what I needed to. I was just ready to get done and thought this was the home stretch. I didn’t want to stand around too long so I took off. There was a lady who was rolling pretty good that went in to the woods a little before me. Not too far down the trail she was coming back. She thought she was going the wrong way. I assured her that this was the correct way and yes we were on this part before. She turned back around and followed me a little bit. I was hurting so I eventually let her pass. There was a couple other riders around me that I felt like needed around but at times they wanted behind me. A little farther down the trail I saw that same lady sitting on the side of the trail looking at a map. I guess she didn’t believe me or all the other people that were riding by her.

This section went on forever!! I was doing pretty good when the trail was flat or doing down hill, but the inclines were hurting. There were times I could put enough power down to flow through the rollers and other times I was just creeping along. I made a friend in this section, but not sure he knew it. We never really spoke much. He was a singlespeeder and we had different points that we were fast at. I knew what boat he was in and let him by when I thought it would help him. He returned the favor when I was going faster. It was really nice to run in to a familiar face so often. I have no idea who he is, but he made this section a little better. Every time I thought we were far enough apart that we would not see each other, they we were. Eventually the rubber band broke and I pulled away for the last time.

I kept thinking I could hear the road and it should be right around the corner, but then the sounds would disappear and more trail was to be had. I did not remember much of this section because last year I was in the same situation and just going along in survival mode. My legs were really cramping at this point. I was drinking often, but it didn’t seem to help. The only good thing was that most of the time when they were cramping, I could still turn the pedals over and keep moving. I have not had that happen as much to be before. I have done it for a short time, but there was a lot of time in this section that my legs were locking up, but kept moving. Eventually I heard the road again and came out on to the gravel section. I knew this was finally the section that I wanted. I crossed the bridge and headed down the high way toward the finish line. I was getting there, but I was still going pretty slow and felt like I could have fell over at any point.

I finished with a time of 7:35 and in 72nd place in open male. 114th place over all out of all Big Frog racers. After picking up my mug I rolled back to the van. I tried to sit down to take my shoes off, but as soon as I did that, both legs completely locked up tighter than I could ever remember. I jumped up and tried to find a position that was less painful. It was not easy and took me a little bit before I could move again. Of course I could hear all the peanut gallery making fun of me, but I was not in a joking mood right then. I have to say that at that moment, that was the most painful cramps that I could ever remember. It was not just one part of my leg, but both legs were full on. I had lots of funny shapes sticking out of different parts of my legs and they were moving.

It took me a long time before I could get most of my gear off and actually be able to sit there. I still kept having cramps just about any time I tried to move. I took a drink of water and really thought I was going to throw up. I eventually could make my way over to the creek and put my legs in the water. I remember that water always being so cold. This time I felt nothing. It felt like it was just warm water. I really don’t know if the water was warm or it was that my core was so hot and my legs were in so much pain I just could not tell. I then slowly made it back to the van. Everyone else was ready to go since they had all been done a while. We went back to the cabin, took a shower and headed out to eat. I was the entertainment for the evening with all the moans and groans and me jumping up with out warning trying to work out a cramp. This went on for the rest of the night. I had a hard time eating a lot even though I was hungry. My body was just not wanting anything to do with anything.

So, now for me to be Eore and my negative thinking. No matter what anyone has said to me, I can not walk away from this race with out thinking it was a complete failure. Yes I finished. Yes my body gave everything it had, but it is still a failure. I have thought a lot about this and tried to look at different angles to try and make myself think differently. Out of everything I can only find a couple things that are on the positive side. First of all I finished and did not end up in the hospital like another person in the cabin did. My finishing places of 72nd/114th is a lot better than last years 111th in class and 182nd overall. Other than that I failed at everything else. Yes that may be a bit harsh, but I feel it is the truth.

I trained a lot harder this year than last year. I am currently in the best shape that I can ever remember being in. I went in to this racing thinking that a finishing time of 6 hours should be doable. Even with the winning time being a half hour slower that would only put me at 6:30 and not 7:35. The kicker for me is that not only did I not make the time that I had hoped for, but I actually finished slower than last year and just to say I finished, is not good enough to me. I have proved several times before that cramping or exhausted I somehow keep moving and will finish if at all possible.

So as I said before, I completely failed on this one. I failed at being hydrated enough before the race. I failed at eating and drinking enough early in the race. I failed at doing things that should have helped me even after I already made several mistakes. I have done enough races wrong that by now I should not be making some of these same mistakes. Even not being as fast as a lot of other people, I know a lot of things that I need to do to make me as fast as I can. I am not doing enough of those things. I am doing a lot of things better than I did in the past, but that is really just a waste if I don’t do the rest of it. I have proven to myself that I can currently ride fairly good for 3.5-4 hours no matter how much I try to sabotage myself. I need to quit letting myself down in those 3.5 hours so I can help myself get through the rest of the race stronger.

So, yes I can be pretty hard on myself, but I feel like I should be. It is all my fault that I do as bad as I do. I have no one else to blame but myself. I have a really good support crew that tries hard to help put me in the position to do well. I feel like not only do I let myself down, but I also let them down too. It is bad enough to be self destructive, but it hurts even more when I let everyone else down.

I want to thank all the volunteers that spent all day out there helping all the racers. There are lots of thankless hours that go in to making a race like this happen. I want to thank everyone that is part of my cycling world. There are a lot of people that I share the road or trail with that play a big part of me pushing myself to be stronger and faster. I want to thank my core group of friends that share all these adventures with me and help me laugh all the time. You make all of this worth it. I have to thank Phil @ Adventure’s for everything you do for me. You go way above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. Last but not least I have to thank Becky my lovely wife. With out your support I would not be able to ride as much as I do and travel to these races. Thank you all!

Posted in Bikes, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dirty South Roubaix 100k

The Dirty South Roubaix was on my radar since I first saw it posted. It was a little farther away than I wanted to drive by myself to and from on the same day. I also have a full enough calendar that I really didn’t want to spend for another hotel room. When I found out that one of my teammates was making the trip, it was a no brainer. It would be a fairly early morning, but the race is in a different time zone to help with that. The drive over went well and we found ourselves behind the Bushong van as we got close to the start.

Photo Credit: Tammy Bushong

We checked in and started getting ready. I was not as prepared as I needed to be on a couple bike things and I also took a long time trying to figure out what to wear. It was supposed to get fairly warm, but it was much colder getting ready than I expected. I just ran with my decision on clothes and hoped for the best. I figured I would not always be warm enough, but hopefully not too cold for too long. Before I knew it, I was needing to grab my things and line up. This was the first year for this race and I was pretty surprised as how many people were there. I really think that if this race was not the same weekend as Southern Cross, it would have been even more people there.

After a few words by the promoter, we were going down the road for a neutral start. I was not trying to be too far to the front. I didn’t really expect the legs to show up good enough to be there. But, there were a few small inclines as we rolled along and several people were slowing down more than I wanted and I found my way back toward first group on the road. The pace car pulled away and I kind of expected it to just go crazy. The guys at the front may have picked the pace up, but it was not a full blown attack. I was able to hang out with some riders and work on warming the legs up.

Photo Credit: Marcus Janzow

After a  couple hills, up and down and then the first part of gravel, I found myself in some company that I am not used to being in. I was riding in the pack that Bushong was riding in. That typically has made me wonder if I was going too hard. I was feeling good and tried to make sure that I was not over cooking it too early. I hung around in that area for a little while, but eventually he pulled away on a climb. It was early and I was still not sure if I was going too hard or not, so I just settled in at a comfortable pace and climbed away. The first big switch back type climb was pretty long. There were areas that I though we were at the top only to find myself climbing again. I will say there were several sections that if I had a camera with me, it would have been very easy for me to pull over and take some pictures. It was a very pretty area.

When I was on the rollers at the top a rider that was wearing the Saint Nichols Brewing Company team kit. I knew he had to be local and knew the roads. I pushed a little harder in areas that I would not have because of him.This was a very good thing. It let me keep the pace up and climb hills faster than I would have not knowing just how long they were or weren’t. I let everything hang out on the main down hill on this section. Apparently it was going well. Strava had me in 4th place overall on this section, well at least against the riders who are on Strava.

Toward the end of this section I was taking a turn up front. He said the road section would be soon and we should try to bridge the gap up to the riders in front of us. So, I picked it up a little and pulled them in. I found Bushong in this group. Most of this group stayed together for the road section and the beginning of the levee. Zach from Hashtag bikes joined us on the levee. This part was the hardest section of the ride. It was basically flat, but the wind made it very painful. The group started to splinter and soon enough I too was spit off the back. Zach and Bushong were putting in just a little too much power for me and knew we still had a long way to go.

I was stuck along for a little while, but eventually another rider who was part of the group at the beginning of the levee, rejoined me. Together we took turns trying to finish this section up. At one point we turned left and the cross wind was so hard I thought I was going to be blown off of the levee. I was leaning to the right very hard just to stay on the path. I was very happy when this section finally ended. But, it didn’t take too much down the road that we were climbing a steep and loose section of climbs. I was really feeling the effects of the levee and just tried to keep moving forward.

Photo Credit: Marcus Janzow

Overall this section was really nice and scenic, but there was some sections of chunky gravel that also made it interesting. Eventually we came down another fast and fun but chunky down hill. There was another guy near me that was all excited about how crazy that hill was and then all of a sudden, his tire was loosing air. It really didn’t not shock me after what we just went down. I was thankful that I was tubeless and managed to stay aired up for that section. Not too far after this, I was spit out on to another road section. I was out there by myself for this whole section. I didn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. I was told that this was a tail wind section, but I sure didn’t feel it. I just did what I could to keep the pedals turning and moving forward. It is easy to sit up or stop and eat up a lot of time. The legs were feeling it and I kept eating and drinking to keep fueled up. I guess I did a pretty good job of this as I kept riding better than expected.

Photo Credit: Matt Gholson

After we crossed back over the levee section we took a right to head back toward the finish line. As I turned the back wheel slid out on me. I knew right away that it was flat or really close. I stopped and checked it. I put some air in it and got back on. it did a pretty good job for a while. The tire kept loosing a little air and I could tell it was lower pressure than what I prefer. I tried to take it easy on it, but shorty after the creek crossing in the picture above, it was low enough that I needed to stop again. I put some more air in it. At this point my teammate Lovins pulled up. He wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. I guess he saw me stop the first time to put air in it, but just could not quite catch me. If I would have looked back, I probably would have eased up so we could join forces.

The tire held for the rest of the race, but it was not at the pressure I wanted it to be. I kept waiting for it to go flat again, but managed to hold on. I heard about a huge climb at the finish. The legs were really tired, but I was ready to be done. I was surprised at the pace that I was climbing the last hill and was just waiting for the point that my legs give up. Maybe the power of the finish line was pulling me through. I powered up the last climb and rolled across the line. I finished in 4:17 and ended up in 5th place in the sport class. I was very happy with my effort and how well I rode. I was also very happy with 5th place, but that back part of the brain does wonder what would have happened if the tire didn’t start to loose air. I do not think I had enough in the legs to catch 3rd place and get on the podium, but I know I would have been close. Maybe next time!!

For a first time event these guys did a great job!! The course was marked very well and there were volunteers at most of the intersections just to make sure people didn’t go the wrong way. The roads were very enjoyable. This is an area that I could go ride just for fun. I may have to schedule a long weekend down that way. Thanks to all the volunteers and everyone that made this race possible. Thanks to my teammate Lovins for being like minded and helping twist my arm to make the trip. This is on my to do list for next year. I really hope my schedule works out so I can make it.

Here is a video by Zach Andrews of the first 1.5 hours of the race. I get a lot of coverage near the end when we are riding together on the levee section.


Posted in Gravel, gravel, Racing, racing, Team Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2017 Snake Creek Gap TT #2

This was the second year that I made the trip down to Dalton to race The Snake. This year was the first time that I was going to race the same distance both times. If you read my last post, then you know that the first race was shortened because of the weather. But, anyone who finished would get credit for finishing the race in their class. Last weekend I headed back for the second race in the series. The good news was that the weather was supposed to be a lot nicer than the first race. Not just less ice and snow that we could actually race the full distance, it was going to be pretty nice.

One problem with the weather being nicer is that I had been riding in colder weather and not used to knowing what to put on. I am not very good about keeping track of what I am wearing per how the weather is. I had a new kit that I really wanted to wear. Another issue I was having was that this new kit looked like the jersey was a little thinner than what the old ones were. This makes it hard to know how much difference it would make. With the start being at a different parking lot then the finish, I also had to try and make some decisions before we left. I made some last minute changes of putting on a second under shirt. I also put on knee and arm warmers.

Once we got to the start we unloaded and started to get ready. The stress was a little high as expected. This was going to be a big day and a lot of things can happen. Just when I thought I was ready and getting ready to roll around a little, my first complication of the day showed up. I was a little rushed at the hotel and I could not take care of all of my pre-race prep. Normally this is just an inconvenience, but looking at the bathroom line it was a lot more than just an inconvenience. So, I make a quick decision to head to the woods. As I roll up to the jeep, something happens and I land on my seat a little hard and pop, the seat moves. Great!!! So, I dug around trying to get the tools needed and then leveled the seat out. So, back to the last task at hand…………..

I then rushed back to the jeep and headed to the start line. I saw some of my group and worked my way up to them and hung out waiting for my place in line to be started. Soon enough I was shuffled up to the guy yelling out race numbers to the time keeper. He says go and then says wait. I was like what?? am I supposed to go or what? The timing guy said go ahead. I joked that there when 3 finish spots. Like I really thought it would matter.

Off I go in to this new trail section that I have not rode before. it was supposed to be nice and flowy, so I did not want to get too carried away and over do the first 17 miles as the next 34 would be tough enough with out blowing myself up. It didn’t take long before I found myself behind Abby from Wood-N-wave who I met the night before. It felt like I was going too slow, but I figured that was just me being too pumped up. So, I made sure and just sat there for a little while. Eventually I made my way by and said good luck.

Not too far down the trail I found myself coming up on Hutch and a train of riders. As we worked past a couple people we found ourselves rolling up on Team People’s bearded powerhouse and Kayla (She Shreds) in front of him. If I was catching him, I figured I was starting way too hard. Then I could tell he was really trying to pace himself so he didn’t over do it in this section too. So, maybe I was not doing too bad. Eventually he pulled away and Kayla ended up behind us. We stayed that way for a little while with a few other riders in tow. Hutch was setting an awesome pace. I figured that she was going to have a finishing time that I would be very happy with, so there was no need to pass her. I figured any extra effort that she was not putting in would only hurt me later.

We rode this way for a while. There was a little time that I did end up in front and went back and forth with a few of the other riders in the pack. As we went up the big climb before the Snake Creek gap parking lot, the legs felt like they were going to cramp. I backed the pack off hoping to keep that from happening and she rolled away from me. I came in to the parking lot rest area hurting pretty good. It was not easy to roll past the unsanctioned rest stop that had beer and whisky. I figured a beer would make my day end up badly. I rolled over to the sag tent and grabbed everything I felt I needed. I ate some Cliff products that were being handed out. I topped off my bottles and took off up the very long climb before my legs decided to take a break.

I took it easy up the hill as I knew it was a long one and with my legs feeling heaving I really didn’t want to cramp. i saw some more familiar faces as they passed me, but I did’t panic and just did what I felt I needed to. My bail out gear on my 1×11 is really nice for some things, but when I am in it I go pretty slow. Maybe shifting in to a bigger gear would have been good, but I will never know. When I did get to the top of the climb and started the next section the legs started to feel better. I had some highs and lows for this part all the way up to the water stop at the top of the road climb. I downed some mustard and went on my way.

I did pretty well for the next section. Legs were feeling better and it allowed my to ride a lot of the rock sections.  I just tried to keep moving, eating and drinking. It is crazy, but I kept wishing the wall was around the next corner. I really didn’t want to go up it, but I was ready to get it over with. Eventually the wall came  and I started walking. With the legs wanting to cramp and also being wore out, I didn’t ride as much as I did before. After what seemed like 3 hours I thought I was finally over the wall. I thought at this point that I had a little rock section to go and then the radio tower would be there soon enough. Well, this little bit really dragged on for every. I didn’t remember there being that much after the wall. Part of the issue could be that at this point, my legs were locking up and keeping me from doing much. The cramps would come and go. When I could ride, I felt like I was still moving pretty well, but when my legs were locked up I was a snail.

Eventually I saw the radio tower. I could not have been happier. I knew it was all down hill from here. I dropped the hammer the best I could and let it rip on the down hills and made fairly short work of the last section. As I came around the corner and saw the finish line tent, I was ecstatic. I safely made the turn in to the parking lot and here was the group cheering me on. Jeff yelled for me to do a wheelie and even with my legs about ready to fall off, the next thing I know I was pulling up to ride one. Riding a wheelie at the finish line can be tricky. It is even harder after putting in the effort that I had to put in to get this far. I didn’t want to pull up crooked or if I did pull it up straight, I didn’t want to loop out. I was very happy when I pulled up an perfect wheelie and rode it way longer than I thought I had the energy for. I think this was one of things in the ride that I was the most happy about. Very little beats a good finish line wheelie.

I rolled across the line in 6:13 and ended up finishing in 15th place in the 40-49 class . My goal was to finish in 6 hours. I was not really thinking that I could get to 6 or even under so I really am happy with my time. But that does not mean that I don’t keep thinking what if. I am super happy with the first 4 hours of the race. After that is where I started to put more effort in being able to finish as strong as I could and not just riding/racing. Typically I am the blame for my cramps or issues. I have a bad habit of not eating or drinking enough. Maybe I still didn’t do enough of either or both, but I felt like I was doing a good job of taking in enough.

After thinking about it a little, I think maybe my issue was just not training hard enough. The cramps were along the inside of my thigh. I am not used to having cramps there as they are normally the calves or the hamstrings. I think all of the standing and pumping I did trying to ride everything was using muscles that I didn’t work out enough before. Too many of my miles were put in riding gravel and not enough actual mtb riding where I need to stand up. I may be way off on this, but it seems to make some sense to me.

After the race we all headed to Cherokee Brewing for some awesome pizza and beer. Good times were had and we even helped a local named Eric celebrate his birthday and he shared his cake with us. It was interesting to say the least, but we had a great time. I would recommend checking that place out if you are in the area. We moved the after party back to the hotel and continued to have a lot of laughs and good times. I keep saying that the hanging out before/after the actual race is why I keep coming back. it just makes the trip all worth it. Laughter is good for the soul and with this group it is easy to come by.

Thanks to Kayla for this great picture

I though it was just the beer talking, but apparently all the talk about riding the next day was really a thing. The next morning I was still a little in denial about the fact that we were really going to go ride. I didn’t get near enough sleep, but I was up and moving like it or not. We loaded up and headed to Booker T State park. We met up with the girls and we all went for a ride. I was very tired, but was riding better than I thought I would. It didn’t take time before the climbs were getting slower, but I was still going. The weather was over 70 degrees in February, so how could I not be out riding. The only bad thing about it was that it made the drive home seem longer than normal.

I want to thank the staff that puts on this race every year. There are a lot of people that put in a lot of hard work . I also want to thank everyone who helped make this weekend work out as good as it did and as fun as it was. Phil at Adventure’s Recreation for helping me get my Scott Scale. This bike is a blast to ride and much lighter than what I was riding. Thanks to ESI Grips for having the best grips on the market. Stan’s NoTubes for helping me keep from having a flat tire with all of the rocks I bounced off of all day. Honey Stinger for helping keep me fueled up with some great tasting energy products. Handup Gloves for keeping my hand happy. I want to thank my wife for all the hard work she has to do while I am gone for the weekend racing and while I am out putting in all of my training rides. She pushes me to get out and keep getting better. I can not ask for a better support team. And of course I have to thank my travel partners. With out you I would have to laugh at my own jokes and we all know that is not a good thing.

Sorry for the book. See you next time 🙂

Posted in Bikes, hills, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Snake Creek Gap #1

Last weekend was the first of two Snake Creek Gap TT races. Being that it is the second weekend of the month, it did not leave much down time for the new year. I didn’t go too crazy at the end of the year, but I tried to keep as active as I could. I knew this race was just around the corner. The first week of the year didn’t work out too good for riding and I didn’t get any miles in before this race. I did have some activity, but no riding out doors.

As the weekend drew closer, the extended forecast kept getting worse. The high temp if the day kept going down and the chance of snow kept increasing. There was even some thoughts about not heading down as it didn’t seem like it would be worth it. Since part of the group already left Thursday, there was no way I was going to back out even if I had to head down by myself. Thankfully that didn’t happen and Friday afternoon we headed south. The chance for bad weather Friday night was pretty high. There was some areas not too far away already getting snow. They also posted that there would be a decision late Friday about if the race will be shortened or cancelled. We were already on the road and I figured they would not cancel it unless it was really bad. Worse case we would have a real good time Friday night and find someplace farther north to ride on Saturday.

The company that was going to do the shuttle was not going to run to the parking lot for the 34/50 mile start. So, the race was shortened for everyone to being just 17 miles. Now that may sound like a pretty short race, but anyone who has done this before knows that this is the hardest 17 miles of the race and seems a lot more than just 17 miles. Then if you add in the snow that was coming and the temps reaching a high of 28 degrees, it could be a very tough “short” race.

I was torn on how to feel about hearing the race was shortened. It was not really what I came down here for, but with the conditions it would make a hard race even harder. I was also a little worried about how strong I would be for the full 50. Also, with it being this early in the year I as really thinking this more like a training race than something that I could actually place well at. So, with all that could go wrong for the weekend a snowy 17 mile ride was not too bad.

The first climb out of the parking lot hurt me more than I thought it would. I am not sure if it was the fact that half way up the hill I could no longer feel my fingers to know if I was pulling the brakes or not, much less holding on to the handle bar. I felt like I kept moving pretty well even with it hurting. I was going faster than some and slower than others. It was cold and the snow made some sections tricky. Once I hit the top and started flowing, the feeling in my hands came back. I felt like I was a lot farther in on mileage than I thought I should be. This made me think that I probably was riding better than previous times there. I did have one issue. The one water bottle I had was banging around and making a lot of noise. I thought my water bottle cage was loose, but it was just that the ice block of a bottle was too much weight and it was bouncing around everywhere. The other bottle that I had was an insulated bottle and after the second drink, it was frozen too much for me to get a drink.

I rolled up to the water spot quicker than I expected. I ended up staying here longer than I normally would have wanted to, but it just kind of happened. I was going to just leave the water bottle there and thought the guy would take it back to the start. Then he said he was just going to throw it away. But, I really like the cap that was on that bottle and then dug in the trash to retrieve the cap. When I took it off, I noticed that there was some water still in there. I dumped out everything I could and put it back on the bike. I took the top off of my other bottle to get a drink. I had a slushy for the rest of the day, but at least I could take the top off and get something to drink.

I kept moving for the next section and doing what I could. I had a few sections that I thought I was going down, but managed to keep myself up right. The extra effort I was putting in to keep traction or to stay upright was starting to add up. I am sure the lack of fluids or food played a big part in this. There were a couple of spots that I had to push and tried to take a drink during some of those sections. I did finally eat a gel at some point, but it was pretty late in the ride. I was very happy with how I was climbing the tricky sections, but it was not necessarily what I would call fast. I did destroy any of my previous times climbing the wall. So, I guess I had that going for me.

I admit that I didn’t ride as much of the last rock section as I normally would have. After so many near misses I was second guessing myself too much. Some of the snow had melted and it was hard to tell what exactly was there. The sun was also to my back and put a shadow on the section of trail I was trying to see. With the race being cut short, my finish time really didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that I did finish and I didn’t get hurt too bad to ride the next race.

The radio tower was there sooner than I expected, but I was really happy to know that I was just about done. The down hill from there had a few sections you really had to watch but was not near as bad as the road section. The changing between the pavement and the wet snow spots had me thinking that a high speed crash would be very easy to do. I took it way easier than I probably needed to but oh well. 

I ended up finishing in 2:40 and in 108th place overall out of 232 riders. It should not really bother me but it does. The fastest time was 1:54. I don’t think I am anywhere near that time but still think I should be faster. Granted I went in to this thinking more like a group ride than a race and I also made a few more bad decisions the night before. The time makes no difference for me in the race final, well unless the next race has the same issues and it cut short. If that is the case I will just go harder then. 

Even with knowing all the reasons that I didn’t go faster, it still bothers me. It is also compounded by the fact that in 2012 I did this race in a lot worse condition (myself not the trail) and I was on a rigid SS and it only took me 7 minutes longer. I am either getting slower the more I work out or I just need to sell the new bike and start riding my SS again. I have said several times that my best/fastest races are on a SS. 

Yea, I know I have some issues. That does not mean that it is easy to change how I think. 

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Times fun when your having flies


It is hard to believe that I am actually working on the year in review post already. It does not seem possible that 2016 has come and gone already. Overall it has been a pretty good year. Not everything worked out the way I thought they would, but I am still here and riding better than I had in previous years. With that in mind I really can’t complain. I took the momentum from the end of 2015 and tried to build on that this year. Just like other winters I had a good plan of doing better about staying in shape and before I know it spring is here and I have some catching up to do.

I didn’t get a bunch of riding done in January or most of February. Typically only getting one ride if any each week and several of them I didn’t ride at all. The only savior was the Florida trip. This was my third trip down there. It is always nice when the weather is warmer, but there is normally plenty of wind. It is always fun to get away and ride with some fun guys, so in all it is never a loss no matter how much riding I get in. This year I put in over 360 miles in 5 rides, so it was a good year. That was a good kick off/catch up from my lack of winter training. The only problem with putting a huge week with back to back rides in is that I am normally wore out for a while when I get back and other than “racing” the Death March, I really didn’t get that many rides in.

Early April I went on the People’s Brewing Pisgah trip. That was with out a doubt the funnest trip that I can remember being on. Hard miles, lots of laughs and a few beers. Even with me taking the two scariest/ hardest crashes I have had in a while and thought I broke my hand. I am still not fully healed from one of those crashes and not sure if I ever will. I probably need to go back and get another x-ray or have someone check it out. It should be working better than it does and will a lot less pain.

Pisgah was good for the legs, but once again I failed to back it up with the riding to really get me in shape. Soccer always seem to keep me way too busy to get any real consistent mileage in. I love watching my kids play and would not trade it for anything. Next year since my oldest is driving now, I should not have to make as many trips for practices. This should allow me to get a few more rides in, but this also means I miss seeing my son as much.

The Big Frog was my first big race of the year and my first time racing this event. My lack of training leading up to the race and not managing my nutrition well enough had me paying for it dearly for several hours. I fought cramps way longer than anyone would want. It kind of reminded me of the time I did the Mohican. Even with all of my issues and lack of riding, I really can’t complain about finishing in 7:22. I really had no preconceptions on what kind of time I would get.

Next up on the list was my redemption on the Mohican 100k. The last time I tried that race I cramped for 5+ hours. That means I was out there a LOT longer than that. Actually somewhere over 9 hours. That is a very long time to only ride 60 miles. After the Big Frog I continued on my soccer filled schedule and rode once a week leading up to the Mohican. With the time being only 5 weeks apart I think I was in the middle ground of living off of the good that the Frog did for my legs and getting rested. This race was way better for me. Even with it having more single track than the Big Frog, I finished only 11 minutes slower at 7:33.

After that race soccer schedule let up some and I was feeling good about getting out on the bike more often. For the rest of the summer I was averaging over 100 miles a week and feeling stronger and faster. Group rides were a lot more fun. I had one of my best rides for the Strassenfest ride. This is only a fun ride, but anyone who has done it knows that it is not all fun and games. I kept up with the fast group for way longer than I ever thought I could and only a hand full of riders pulled away. I grabbed the next group and still finished strong averaging over 20 for the 60 mile route.

I was still putting in some good miles each week as fall was approaching. I went in to my only Dino race of the year a little tired, but riding strong. I had a pretty good race considering the lack of dirt I had been riding on and very happy. I had some hope that I could once again become a contender to the front group for the Cat 2 class. I just need to put more work in to it.

After that race I was still getting some good miles in each week. I went to the Pumpkin Metric and had another good ride down there. After that ride I started to incorporate more gravel rides in to the schedule to get ready for the Gravel Grovel. I went on some awesome training rides in the Story area. Those rides are always near the top of my fun list each year. I also attended a fun new race called the Boograss Dash. This was a very fun and laid back event that I really hope will grow for next year.

With the way the year was going and after last years fast time, I had some high hopes for a good Gravel Grovel. Apparently my body did not agree and made sure it was as painful as all the other years. This was a huge disappointment after all the work that was put in this years leading up to this race. I know I should be happy to even ride as good as I did, but it is just not that easy. Maybe 2017 all the pieces will fall in to place. I do love this race.

2016 was really a good cycling year for me. I fell down a few times and didn’t do my homework for a few other races, but I did put some good work in. This year I have reached my all time mileage record for one year. I do not track my indoor miles in this figure as I don’t really think that equates to the same as outside riding. I do have to say thanks to everyone who makes riding a bike even more fun that it already is. I know there are a lot of other people I should be thanking, but most of all I have to thank my wife for allowing me to spend so much time riding a silly bike. Phil @ Adventures Recreation for helping me keep get all my bikes worthy of spending all those hours on them and everything that you do to help me. Ghost Buster for all the hours, miles and good friendship we have shared. My good friends Jeff and Jason on the People’s Brewing Team for hard rides and even harder laughs. I can only wish that you lived closer to me. I also have to thank my new team member in E squared. We may not have rode that much this year, but I can tell that we will put each other in a lot of pain in 2017!! If it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger.

The numbers for 2016 are as follows: 4,193 miles, just over 280 hours and a little over 245,000 feet of elevation. I really can not complain about any of those numbers. I can only hope that I can do the same for 2017. If all things work out and with less commitment to the soccer season, I just may top that with breaking in to the 5,000 mark. So, here is looking forward to the 2017 cycling year.

Happy New Year!!!


Posted in Bikes, Gravel, Mountain Biking, Racing, Road Biking, Team Adventures | 2 Comments