2016 Team People’s Brewing Pisgah Trip

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When I was first asked about going to Pisgah with some People’s brewing riders I was not really sure what to say. I really wanted to go back as it has been way too long, but I know what kind of talent these riders have and didn’t know if I would be too slow. Even though I should be in the best shape that I have ever been when I was there. I was assured that it would be a more casual pace and I would be fine. I still knew that I would more than likely be making everyone wait, but I really enjoy riding with some of these guys and figured it would be worth it. Worse case I know my way around pretty good and could just take a shorter route if needed.

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We were all heading down in one of the best vans I have ever been in. It was obvious right away that it was going to be a great trip no matter how well I rode. I am used to going all the way down in one day, but with everyone else coming from farther north, we made a pit stop part of the way to break up the trip in to two segments. It was really nice doing it this way. I was not as tired when we got there and we still put in a good ride after checking in to the hotel. We did the normal Maxwell>Black mtn>sycamore cove loop. This was not a huge ride, but it was a great start to the weekend and ended with a ride to Oskar Blues Brewery. This place is just awesome and a great addition to the area. This was just the beginning, but I soon found out that there was a lot bigger ride planned for the next day.

Three of the guys are signed up for the Pisgah 111k. The one had not done it before and the plan was to see a lot of that loop for a training ride and to make sure the intersections were more familiar. To do this meant we were going to ride a LOT of trails. We did Clawhammer,  Buckhorn gap, Squirrel, 5015, Laurel, Pilot rock and a few other trails that I can seem to remember at the moment. A lot of the intersections were familiar, but I was very rusty on my navigation of the area. I could really tell that it had been a while.

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The day went pretty much as the day before and as I figured. I was pulling up the rear for most of the day. Some times not as far off as others, but any time the trail headed up I was by far the slowest of the group. I rode a lot of stuff and climbed fairly well compared to previous trips down there, but I just didn’t have the power when climbing. I was having this issue before I went down there and had hoped that the legs would come back better than they did, but no such luck. I had a pretty scary moment on Squirrel as I went over the bars on a tight section and ended up landing over the side of the hill. I landed a lot lower than the trail that my tires were just on. I saw the bike flip end over end about 3 times before stopping. The side of the hill was pretty steep and I was not sure how I was going to retrieve my bike. Somehow I managed to make it down to it and back up to the trail. I was not hurt, but I sure was a little more timid for the rest of this trail. With the wreck they were really waiting on me and was starting to wonder if I was ok LOL.

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The climb up 5015 and Laurel was hard, but seemed to be going better. By the time we made it to the top I was feeling better about my riding again, but still getting tired. I had a little mess up right at the top of Pilot and should have known that my game was a little off. I walked down the first two switch back drop offs and started to ride as much as I could. I was doing pretty well for a few sections, but not too far down the trail I went over the bars again. This time was just as scary as squirrel, but the landing was not near as soft. I had nothing but a section of rocks to land on. I ended up jabbing the end of my bars in to my lower gut and ending up sprawled out on the rocks. My head was lower than my feet and I was having a little hard time getting back up. I was a little worried that I really hurt my self where the bars hit me. My hand was hurting and partly numb. I was having a hard time feeling my brake or holding the bars. The mount to my computer was broke so I put it in my pocket. I then walked a little bit of the trail after that. I was not sure if I could hold the bars or squeeze the brakes.

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I last time I came down Pilot I rode more of the trail then I had ever done before. This time I walked more than I had ever done before. Quite a difference between rides. But, I was really mentally messed up and not confident in my riding. Eventually I started riding some sections, but still had issues using the back brake. Sometimes I could squeeze it and it worked and other times I could not feel the lever. I really thought my finger or hand was broke. With all of the issues they were waiting at the bottom for a very long time. One even started to ride back up the hill looking for me, but I was already near the bottom by then. I was hurting pretty bad and not really sure of my condition. They must have discussed it already as they decided that we would take the road around back to the bottom. It was going to be a little longer, but it was going to be an easier ride. There were no arguments from me. I was just hoping to make it back to the hotel at that point. This ride was one of my longest rides in Pisgah to date. The only other time I did a longer ride was the only time I actually finished PMBAR and was out there for over 13.5 hours.

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The beer was sure good that night as I tried to kill the pain and discomfort. Still thinking my finger was broke, I now had a softball sized blood bruise on my gut and assumed that I didn’t do any major damage inside or I would have known by then. I was not sure what was planned for the next days ride, but it was not looking good for me to be there. The next morning I decided that I was going to just go do my own ride on some gravel. I figured I could turn pedals but the bars/brakes were another story. I called my wife to give her an update on how I was doing and said I was not riding. After that it seems that the peer pressure kicked in and before I knew it i was loaded up in the van heading toward Dupont. It was sold to me that it was smooth there and if I could ride gravel, I could ride Dupont. That was not completely true, but not too far from it. I still had some issues using the brakes at times, but I managed to ride good enough.

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I can not express how grateful that I was invited along for this trip. It was so much fun on and off the bike. I might have been riding slow, but considering who I was riding with I would say that I didn’t do too bad. Maybe some day I can get up to that level or at least a little closer. I can not thank Jeff and Jason enough for everything. This was the best trip I have been on in years. Florida is not bad, but not even close to how much fun this one was. I think my face hurt from laughing so much.

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Posted in Bikes, hills, Mountain Biking, mtb, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 Death March

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Before last year I had done every Death March there was. I was bummed that I missed it, but with the weather not being good it made it a little easier to get over. This year I thought that I was going to miss it too. It was not that I had anything on on that day it was more that I had a lot going on the weekends around it. Just when I made up my mind to not worry about finding a partner and skip it another year, a team mate fell in to my lap @alexeatsbeans and something came up that his partner could not make it. After several days of contemplating and making the decision to not race, I changed my mind and agreed to race in less than 1 minute.  This is just the kind of race that I really enjoy being part of and I could not pass up the chance to have this partner.

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Thanks to Quickdirt for the picture.

I have had all kinds of situations in previous years. Some times I was the stronger rider and had to put out the pace that the other team mate wanted to ride. Some years I was the slow person of the team and the fate was in my hands. I had a lot harder times the years that someone was waiting on me than I did the years I waited on someone else. I am not normally too worried about how I would finish, it was more about the experience and to what point could we push ourselves to the limit. I have done it where we would go to complete all the check points and some years where it was just the mandatory and head back.

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This year had the potential to be a little more than previous years. Now don’t get me wrong, we did not think at all about going for a good result. We didn’t really plan anything out at all. I really didn’t look at the maps and what time bonuses there were from each check point. A couple days before the race I did look at where the mandatory check points were just so I had a better idea where we needed to go. I had a map that showed where the check points were so we could figure out where we needed to go when the missing check points were drawn. We had only briefly discussed the plan for the day.  We were both in agreement that we were just going to go get some check points and head back. We were also going to skip all the trails if they were not pulled as a mandatory.

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The last check points were drawn and we were off. We talked about a couple options to make the two additional stops on top of the plan. We didn’t really worry about it and off we went to the first stops. It was pretty obvious that we were not too worried about our time by how little we hurried to take our pictures and move on heading to the next stops. If I would have done a little more planning we would not have stopped at the wrong cemetery. After we took our picture and started to move on, someone else came up and made the comment that it was the wrong one. So, we had to move on and make another stop to get the correct one.

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It seemed that our lack of planning was not the only thing not going our way. With my bike still being trashed from the Gravel Grovel, I had yet to get it working 100% the way it should be. I did a few more tweaks on it the week leading up to the race, but I guess I needed to do a few more things. My back wheel was rubbing on the frame as I was putting power down. I stopped twice to try and make adjustments to fix the issue, but it didn’t really make a difference. Some how it finally stopped rubbing so much. I also had an issue with the crank arm coming loose. I had that issue on the previous ride and thought I addressed the issue, but it didn’t agree. I just put my wrench in my back pocket so it was close by if I needed to use it again.

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One thing that I found with having a partner that is also a runner, this was one of the few times that I actually climbed the fire tower. Usually one or both of us don’t have the legs. It was not as bad as I thought it would be and it was a nice view at the top. The traffic slowed the climbing and descending, but I think we still netted a time savings for climbing it and that is all that really mattered. From here we moved on to the check points that were on the east side of the map. At the Maumee bridge we should have taken the effort to go pick up the Fleetwood check point, but at that point we were thinking that we would be going right by it on way in anyway and can get it then.

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After hitting several check points and climbing a lot more hills, we were starting to feel it in our legs. We started thinking about how we would head back in. The extra trip to Fleetwood seemed like it would take longer that just taking a trail an toward the last check point of the day. We were really wishing that we would have gone ahead and picked it up earlier that day, but it was too late now. We took the trail across and headed toward Hickory Ridge. After a quick stop we then busted it down the hill back toward the car.

We were making some really good time and flying down the road. We figured the extra time to Mitchell was also not worth the effort to go there, so we turned on to the bridge and rolled across the finish line. It was a much shorter day than we figured it would be, but we still had a good ride. This was all for a training ride and fun anyway. After we settled in it seemed we were in some strange company. There were only a couple teams who finished and some of them were the ones that If figured would win. I know they had more check points, but with the time we finished in we could not help but wonder how well we finished. The food or beer was not there yet. I had never had that happen to me before.

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We ended up riding 44 miles in just over 3 hours and had 11 check points. This sounded pretty good, but ended up not being as good as it sounded. If we would have done a little more home work and saw that Callahan was worth 50 min. I am sure we would have gone there. If I would have done a little more planning and scouting, I would have noticed that right across the road from the one check point was another way to Callahan that I never took and would have been the right way to go. Instead we went farther down the road to take a different trail that came out just down the road from the other one. That last check point would have made a big difference. We would have also picked up that other check point earlier in the day.

In actuality it is hard telling how the day would have ended up if we would have went for the other check points. We could have had some major issues that really slowed us down or could have kept us from finishing. I am really happy with the day and that is all that matters. I had a great time riding my bike with someone who kept me laughing all day. It is hard to ask for much more. Maybe another year I will do a little more planning and see if it would make any difference, but it really does not make any difference. Good times had by all is the only thing I ever need to ask for on the bike. See you next year.

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Posted in Basket Case, Bikes, death march, DINO, Gravel, gravel, hills, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Florida fun

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Once again I went with a group of guys to Florida in February. This has been a great trip the last few years since it helps me get a lot of miles/hours on the bike early in the year. There are always good times, lot of verbal abuse and a little recovery drinking going on. As expected with a lot of people crammed in to a condo and spending several days together, there can be times where a little space is needed, but over all it has been a great group of people to hang out with and ride with.

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The typical plan is to stay somewhere around Clear Water Beach. This gives us walking distance to a lot of food places and good bike lanes all the way out to Fort De Soto. The trip out and back to the Fort with riding all of the road section @ the fort, we end up with 70 miles. Then our other option is to head north to Tarpon Spring and back to get the other 30 miles in. The bike lanes north are not near as good as the ones heading south, but still doable. There also tends to be more traffic that way.

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This year was a little different for me since I was flying both ways. Previous years I have drove at least one way. We flew down Tuesday morning fairly early. We ended up getting to the condo somewhere around 1:30. The trailer was emptied and we got ready to ride. The weather was amazing. It was 78 degrees and sunny. We headed down the road around 2:00 for our first ride of the week. It didn’t take long for something to happen to make me wonder how good this week will be. We came across a rough road section and with the train of 10 guys, sometimes the reactions can effect the back of the pack. Unfortunately one of the back riders hit the hole as a bad spot and went down. He re-grouped and seemed to be only out some skin and bruising. We continued on, but a little more cautious.

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We went out to a spot that we had planned on going to, but we had to make a decision. The weather was looking like rain on Wednesday so we were not sure how many miles we would be able to get it and thought about adding miles to that day’s ride. With the weather being so good and in Florida, everyone wanted to go for more. We headed out the rest of the way to Fort De Soto. We ended up having a flat tire on the way out. This is not unheard of, but not very common, but a trend that we would find ourselves in the rest of the week. Once we hit the Fort we knew we were pushing the amount of daylight to get back. No time for pictures this day and put the hammer down toward home. We were not going to make it in time, but figured we could get close enough before the sun went down. But, we had our second flat tire of the day and held us up longer than planned. Some dumb ass made the comment that he was surprised that we don’t have more flats down there with all the road debris. Well, that pretty much told me how the rest of the week would end up and it was not very forgiving. It was still a good 68 mile start to the week.

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Wednesday welcomed us with the rain that was in the forecast. We kept an eye on the radar and made a plan to head out later. With the later than planned ride the day before, a little late start was welcomed by my legs. Eventually we got ready and headed north. We didn’t make it 20 minutes down the road before we were getting poured on. Not what I prefer, but what do you do. The good thing is that the rain didn’t last too long and we were riding in clear weather again, but with some wet roads. The wind was not being very nice and with the rainy start most legs were hurting. We did the 30 to Tarpon Springs and back, but didn’t head all the way out to the Fort. With the late start and everything we just rode part of the way and turned around. It was the shortest day of the week, but still a good ride. We ended up with close to 65 miles for the day and another two flat tires.

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Thursday was a little cooler, but still much better than Indiana weather. The wind was still strong, but it was not raining so all was good. We headed south again towards the Fort. This time we could stop for a few pictures and rest up knowing what kind of head wind we were going to have on the way back. It was brutal at times and other times it was still hard. My legs were really feeling the effort and the previous days. I was ready to get back to the condo. My plan the whole day was to just ride out and back and call it a day with 70 miles. The wind was telling me that was a great decision. Then we rolled back in to Clear Water Beach and when the pack split in to the ones heading north and the ones heading to the condo, I found myself climbing the bridge to head north. I have no idea why I did that, but here I was. The wind was still strong and every mile I was thinking about turning around. Then I would think, just a little farther and before too long we all were turning around. I knew at that point that unless something major happened, I would get my 100 miles completed. The way back still hurt, but when I start to smell home I tend to get a little stronger. I was just ready to get off of the bike.

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Friday was more of the same, but after the effort I put in Thursday my brain didn’t make me take the right to cross the bridge. I was happy to not go farther, but I was also a little disappointed that I didn’t get the 100 in. I still got in over 70 miles with plenty of head wind. I really had nothing to complain about and my legs thanked me for stopping. Saturday was going to be a little shorter day since the trailer was going to head home after the ride. I was not sure what the plan was going to be, but by this time my legs were tired no matter how far I went and my seat was not my friend anymore. We still put in 70 miles with plenty of wind, then we packed up as quick as we could so the drivers could head north. It was a great week even with all the flat tires.

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Saturday night turned in to a good refueling session and a late night back to the condo. That didn’t make the 4:45 taxi pick up very pleasing, but it was well worth it. The condo was awesome and had pretty good room for 9 guys under the same roof. The weather was not as good as some previous years, but it was still a lot better than it could have been or here at home. I didn’t get in the full mileage of the 410 miles that some put in, but I am pretty happy with right around 375 miles for the week. There are always lots of laughs and verbal abuse with this group of people. I would not want it any other way.

Several days later my legs still feel the effort. I am hoping that all the pain with pay off in future weeks. Starting with the Death March and shortly after that will be a fun trip to Pisgah. Good times as always!!

Posted in Bikes, florida, Road Biking, road ride, Team Adventures, Uncategorized, winter miles | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2015 has come and gone

 

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I seem to be a little late in writing this, but better late than never. I think overall that 2015 was a good year for me. I didn’t start the year off too strong, but found a way to turn it around and finish strong. The beginning of the year found me having a lot of calendar conflicts that kept me from getting very many miles in except for the Florida trip. Even that trip could have had more miles if I would have been in a little better shape before hand. I did get some good mtb miles in for the early spring/summer and ended up with a lot more gravel/road miles toward the end of the season.

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It took me most of the year to match the total miles for the month of February, but that is hard to compare apples to apples. The trail miles usually don’t add up as fast as road miles do and Florida in February for training camp is hard to beat. If I look at hours on the bike I did have several months that fell in line. Even with the slow start of the year and all the off road miles added in I still ended up with my most miles in one year since I have been tracking them. I ended up with 2,750 miles. I know that is not a lot for some people, but for me it was a pretty high number. It makes me wonder what I would end up with if I could just have a better first part of the season.

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So, the miles were good for the year and I managed to bring the weight down again at least for a while, but the part that seemed to miss out was the actual racing. I did some racing, but it felt like a lot less than previous years. There were a lot of rescheduling because of weather and that made a lot more overlaps in my calendar for races and soccer schedules. But, I feel like I did pretty well in the races I did make. Not necessarily podium type performances, but overall good showings for me. I rode my SS for the Dino race at Ferdinand and was very happy with how strong I rode. One of my better finishes at that venue. I also broke the elusive 5 hour mark for the Gravel Grovel in a year that had some of the most epic conditions to date.

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I finished the year strong and have started this year off pretty well. I put in more miles in January than I did in January, March, April and May of last year. We are headed back to Florida in a couple weeks and I am hopeful to put in a few century’s down there. Shortly after that I will be making a trip to Pisgah to get some good climbing work out in. I am going to need all the help I can get for the season. I already have quite a bit on my plate. I have signed up for the Big Frog 65 and the Mohican 100k. I don’t plan on missing out on the Gravel Grovel and have a couple other gravel races on my radar. I am also thinking about finally trying out the 6 hour mtb race series and making as many XC races as I can work in.

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So, with all that said, I had a great 2015 season and need to follow it up with an even better 2016 season. Maybe I will actually be able to be fast this year or at least fast for what I have been used to. I also want to thank everyone who helps make the year as good as it is. First of all my wife for allowing me to put the time in on the bike. Phil and Adventures Recreation and Gear for giving the best shop support that I could ever hope to receive. Honey Stinger and Tailwind Nutrition for keeping me fueled for all the miles. ESI grips for making the most amazing grips that I have ever used. Swiftwick for making socks that keep my feet happy hour after hour while turning pedals. Stan’s No Tubes for keeping me rolling in all kinds of conditions on the best wheels I have ever been on and without flats. SKS for all the great products that I rely on if issues happen. Mill House Restaurant for keeping me filled up and Basket Case Brewing for some tasty recovery beverages. But most of all I need to thank Brian Tuell for all the great rides together and pushing me to be a better cyclist. I would not be able to take advantage of all the help I mentioned above if it was not for your help and friendship to get me out the door and on the bike. Here’s to a lot more good times this year!!

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Posted in Basket Case, Bikes, DINO, Dino Series, Gravel, Gravel Grovel, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Road Biking, Team Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gravel Grovel 2015

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After yesterday I no longer have to say that my fastest times for the Gravel Grovel were done on a SS. After trying for the last few years to finish in less than 5 hours, I finally succeeded this year finishing in 4:53. I know that last week I figured out that I actually did finish under the 5 hour mark in 2010, but I am still no sure how that could have happened. I was on my SS and I didn’t think I was very fast back then, but one thing with a SS is that you are forced to be consistent with your speed so hard telling.

I worked pretty hard this year to be in the best condition I have been in awhile to improve my chances for a good finish time. I was feeling pretty good about it a few months ago, but as the time was getting closer I was not so sure anymore. The two scouting trips I made up there did not help me feel better about the condition of my legs. I rode well both times, but I just was not climbing very fast either time and there are plenty climbing sections that can make a big difference. Even the Wednesday night ride this week the legs were feeling heavy and I was struggling climbing. Maybe I was just expecting too much, but I still felt like I was not climbing very fast and the legs were hurting.

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The weather leading up to the race was not very favorable. It rained most of the day Friday and as far as I could tell, most of the day Saturday too. It was supposed to be a high of 47 degrees, so I figured it would be cold too. I knew the trail sections would be interesting to say the least. There were probably going to be some road sections that could be just as bad.

Getting ready that morning it felt warmer than I expected. This made it very hard to decide what to wear. It was going to be muddy and wet for sure, but not sure how cold it really will be. The parking lot was pretty soft and the rain was pretty steady. The conditions were not very good for me to put in a good time, but I was in for the ride no matter what happened.

Soon enough I found myself at the starting line and after a few announcements we were off. It didn’t take long before the water was spraying all over the place. The pace did not seem too fast, but I know I tend to go a little faster than I should at the start. I kept moving around trying to find wheels to follow with out putting in too much effort. I found myself being surrounded by some people that I should not be trying to keep up with. I found some other wheels to ride with and took a little off of the pace. It was going to be a long day and no need to blow up before the first climb.

The paved climb in the middle of no where came up soon enough. I actually didn’t do to bad on it and Strava says it was a PR for that section. The next several miles I found myself riding around the same few riders. They would get me on the climbs and I would bomb past them on the down hills. Soon we were heading in to Combs road. After the last ride there, I knew this section would be tough. There were several riders with bike issues in this section.

I was not riding too bad in this section. I was riding a lot of parts that people were having issues with. The creek crossings were deep and plenty of mud to go around. I had a few gears that started to grind pretty good when I was using them. I just tried to pick one that was not making noise and went that speed because I didn’t need to rip the rear derailleur off that early in the race. I was very thankful that the easiest gear in the back was one of the few that were working. I felt like I could have gone faster in a few spots, but I didn’t want to risk using those gears in that kind of situation. I made it up to the last little pitch on the climb and the chain was really making some noise. I didn’t want to, but I decided that I should walk the last section and save my bike. The down hill section was quite interesting as my brakes were not working all that well. Just enough to slow me down if I really needed it.

In all I actually thought that Combs road would have been even worse. Don’t get me wrong, it was not that great, but I am pretty sure I have seen it in worse conditions. The next section of road started off pretty good, but right after the bridge crossing it got a lot softer and more standing water. I just tried to pick good lines and keep the pace moving with out crashing or breaking the bike. I was not doing too bad on the climb right up to a spot that the back wheel spun out on a rock or something. I walked a little bit and then hopped back on. I did not climb it anywhere close to the speed that I could have, but I just had to do what I could. The next section to the road was spend crossing back and forth on the trail just trying to take the best lines.

The road section moved along pretty good. It was nice to have one of the People’s Brewing guys to ride with. We chatted a little and took some turns drafting off each other. It was nice riding on the road, but it would not last long. I started up the Nebo Ridge climb just trying to pick a line that I could keep traction. I didn’t do too bad, but did spin out on one part. Other than that I rode everything and made pretty good time considering everything. I even cruised down the down hills better than before. Maybe because the brakes were not really working anymore. I did have a few times that I thought I might go down, but thankfully I never did

The next road section I just tried to put it in a big gear and cruise with out using too much energy to hold that speed. The legs tend to feel a little better after I can spin them out for a little bit. I knew what was coming up ahead and needed all the hills I could find. I tried to take in some food and water so I had all the energy needed to climb the next few hills. Mt. Baldy hurt pretty bad. I kept moving, but no where near my fastest time. I passed the rest stop at the top and prepared to bomb down the hill. I knew this was a place I could let it all hang out and gain some time.

The next hill didn’t hurt as bad as Mt. Baldy, but I was still moving way to slow. Somewhere in this section I looked at how many miles I had in and how much time I had left to be able to finish in under 5 hours. Apparently my math was not the best, but I figured that there would be no way to be able to meet my goal. I just figured I would keep riding and get back as soon as I could.

I was hurting pretty good for the next several miles. I think the self realization that I was not going to reach my goal and the fact that it had been a while since I could feel my feet started some bad thoughts. At one point I even thought of a short cut to get me back to the car. After trail 21 I just kept moving. Charles was there and cheered me on. That was very uplifting and helped me get past this next loop. Near the top of the hill I thought that I could take the left and the car would be not too far away. Then I figured if I took the energy to climb this silly hill, I better not quit and head back. I did lose traction and had to walk the last few feet of the climb. After I started going again I glanced back and thought I saw the green jacket of my team mate Alex.

I figured he would soon catch me on this next section. He has been a lot stronger than me and I figured he would have caught me long before now. I didn’t see anyone for a while and figured maybe I was just seeing things. I went a little too fast on the down hill section back to where trail 21 comes out, but thankfully I could keep the bike upright and rolling good. I didn’t waste any time at the intersection and rolled on by. At this point not only could I not feel my feet, I could not feel my hands. Those fast down hill sections were good for getting back sooner, but they were also a heck of a lot colder than the climbs.

I struggled on the trail 12 section. There are a lot of dips and things that were hard for me to ride. I had to walk a few more sections and the other sections that I was riding was pretty sketchy. I thought I heard a few people behind me so I just kept trying to move the best I could. Toward the end of this section Alex did catch me. He yelled at me to give me a hard time. I was pretty out of it at that point and was just going to move over for him and almost wrecked. I know that is not what he was trying to do, but that is what almost happened.

I followed him to the end of the trail section. I was feeling pretty bad at that point and before I got out of the woods I figured I might as well go ahead and answer natures call. I needed to go for quite a while at that point and figured why not stop since I was not going to hit the 5 hour mark. I have never gone in my kit as I rode, but with the amount of rain and mud this was the day that I really thought about it. Alex was eating some Doritos when I came up and then he proceeded to feed me a few hand fulls so he would not eat them all and I emptied the bag.

We took off both hurting pretty bad. That next climb really hurt. I  was so ready for the next turn and then the one after that. The church could not have came too soon. I tried to ride with Alex for his section, but we would yo-yo back and forth depending if we were climbing or descending. We hit a big hill and I pulled away from him. I tried to wait on him a few times, but I was just really ready to be done and the pedals were just turning what ever pace they wanted to go. Shortly after that I noticed a rider up ahead. That helped me find a little more motivation to reel him in. I did just that and promptly dropped him. I just kept moving as fast and smooth as I could. I was starting to feel a little better. It must have been those Doritos that gave me that extra little power.

I was in my big ring and rolling pretty good. I was very happy when I saw the church and took that corner. I guess I could really smell the finish line there and the legs were working really good. I have no idea how fast I was moving since my computer had been covered by mud since mile 6. There was another two more riders that I reeled in and passed in this section. Near the end the legs were screaming, but I knew the end was near and kept pushing. I thought I could hear one of those riders coming up behind me, but it turns out that it was probably just my imagination.

I was so relieved when I could see the horse camp through the trees. Then I remembered that I still needed to cross one more creek. I tried to pick a good line and just went for it. I knew it was deep and was not good for my bike, but after what I just put it through it could not be that much worse for it. It felt like the water was up to my knees as I rolled in the middle. I almost messed up on the other side as I saw a big rock under the water and barely negotiated around it and climbed the last hill to cross the finish.

I was drained and just leaned on my bars resting. I figured Alex should have been right behind me. After waiting a minute I asked one of the photographers what time it was. He said 5 till 3. It took a minute for that to sink in and then I was like wait…umm…what?? If we started right at 10, then 3 o’clock would be the 5 hour mark. This means that I finished in under 5 hours. I was not sure what to think at that point. I could not have been happier at that moment. I could not wait any longer as I could not feel most of my body and headed back to the cabin. It was so awesome to have the whole People’s brewing group hanging out there waiting for me and cheering as I rolled up. I never expected that and was one of the best moments of the weekend. Even when other people were staying in the cabin with me, no one hung out waiting for me.

I cleaned myself up and changed clothes. They headed over to the dining hall to eat and pick up there first and second place awards for the single speed class. Then I made it in to the hall and picked up my plate of food and did not even sit down and my name was called out for a door prize.

I ended up finishing with 4:53 and in 41st place overall. 12th place in the masters class. Not too bad with there being 120 finishers and over 150 people signed up. This is by far the highest finish that I have ever had. Most years I didn’t finish under the top 100 overall. Granted the turn out was down some because of the weather, but I am still pretty happy with it. It is pretty hard to believe that I could actually finish under my goal with the conditions that we had to ride in. It makes me wonder just how fast I could have finished it if was on the dry side. It leads me to believe that with a little more work I could finish somewhere near that 4:30 range. Now I guess I have something to shoot for next year. I will have to decide what bike I plan on riding. I know there are sections that I can ride faster on my mtb, but not sure if I can maintain the speed on the sections that my cross bike excels. I do know that my hands hurt really bad today from trying to hold on to those bars. I am sure my hands would not hurt as bad if I was holding on to a flat bar. I guess I have 363 days to figure that out.

I would like to thank Brian and the team at Dino for putting this event on. I think they did a great job this year and if Sub 9 was not going to be there, I am very glad that they decided to keep this thing moving. I also want to thank Phil @ Adventures Recreation, with out them I would not have had the gear to keep me as warm and comfortable as I was and a bike that was not flawless, but held on in some crazy conditions to get me to the finish line. I need to thank Honey Stinger and Tailwind Nutrition for helping me keep my body fueled up and hydrated. I also need to thank Stan’s No Tubes for some awesome wheels and tubeless fluid. There were several sections out there that I thought I destroyed a wheel or would have at least had a flat. Neither of those things happened and I had no reason to stop.

Posted in Bikes, Dino Series, Gravel, gravel, hills, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Grovel is coming

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It is getting to be about that time of year again. I normally sit here wondering if I will finally be able to go sub 5 hours for the Gravel Grovel. Even this year I am wondering almost the same thing, but with one change. Doing some research on my past efforts trying to figure out the magic plan, I came across some information that was a little shocking to me. It seems that in 2010 I finished with a time of 4:59 breaking that elusive sub 5 hour mark. To add to that shocking feat I found that I did it on a SS MTB with huge fat tires and at a time when there was a lot more road sections on the race course then more recent years. My next fastest time was done on that same SS MTB, but with smaller 35mm tires. I really think I would have surpassed that time that year, but I had a flat near the end of the race and walked to the finish. Changing the tire would have taken a little bit of work and I thought I was almost there. I came to find out that I was not near as close to the end as I thought, but after walking a while I was too frustrated to give up and fix the tire. I have no idea how much time I spent walking, but I am sure it was well over the 15 minutes that I was over the 5 hours.

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I have put in a good amount of riding at the end of this year and probably in the best condition that I have been going in to this event. I think I have the bike set up as fast as I can and hope to have some good legs show up Saturday morning. The temperature does not look too bad, but the chances of rain leading up to the event and that morning are not looking too good. That can plan a big part in how fast I can finish. The one good thing I have going for me is that typically I ride fairly well in that kind of stuff. I hope to get past the tough sections without any issues and set the cruise control for the final stretch.

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Over the last month or so I have put in a lot more gravel/trail miles around here. I have also made two different trips to check out the different sections of the race route. I am confident in all of the intersections now and have a much better idea of some things to expect. I really enjoy group rides like the two scouting trips. It lets me ride with some people that I might not see too often or meet new people. The people are what make things even more fun than just riding my bike around. I can do that all alone and still have fun, but doing it with friends make it even better. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces this weekend, be it at the start line, finish line or somewhere in between. Be safe and keep the rubber side down.

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Posted in DINO, Dino Series, Gravel, gravel, Racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Zionsville Harvest 50

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When I first heard about the Zionsville Harvest 50 it sounded like a great idea. Here is a 50 mile gravel race that is a few weeks before the Gravel Grovel. I figured at the very least it would be a great training ride. I heard that it was not very hilly and figured that would play in to my strengths or to be more accurate, have less of my weakness. I am not really sure I have any strengths. I do tend to hold my speed better when it is flatter. I can climb, but I don’t currently climb at the speed that I need to be able to keep up with the faster guys.

As I looked in to this race there was something that was a little concerning to me. The race route was not going to be marked. The plan was to get the route uploaded in to my Garmin so I had something to follow. The problem with this plan is that I had never tried it. I had the route loaded and selected, but when we started it just didn’t work. I am not clear on what I did wrong, but I am sure I did something. I will have to figure that out a little sooner next time I need something like that.

I signed up thinking that it would not be hard to find someone to ride along with me, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The weather was going to be cool and a good chance of rain. This in itself would not have been too much of an issue for me. When I add the solo 3 hour drive time to the equation, it was not sounding like such a good idea. But, since I had already signed up, I figured I might as well make the trip and get a good ride in.

I made it there early enough to have plenty of time to get ready and sign in. It was not easy figuring out what to wear. This time of year is always difficult because so many things play in to how cold it will really feel on the bike. Looking at other riders didn’t really help either. Some were bundled up like it was going to be -30 degrees and some guys were riding around in shorts. I went with the shorts and knee warmers figuring that covered the important parts. It turned out that I made a good enough decision and was fairly comfortable for the whole ride. Some places were warm and some were cool. I could not have asked for anything better.

After a few announcements the neutral roll out took off. We rolled down the road a little ways before ending up looking at a double track trail section. They let everyone regroup before sending us on our way. Silly me, I thought I might actually be able to hang with one of the front groups. I have done ok on some group rides and figured just maybe for a little while. That little while was very little. The front took off pretty fast and before I knew it my heart rate was out the roof. I should have known better with it being cold and the lack of the warm up.

I backed off my pace and grabbed on to any wheel I could find. I was hurting, but improving some. The plan was to stick to whatever wheel felt right and try to not do anything silly. I started to feel a little better as I jumped from wheel to wheel. After I found some guys that seemed to be about the right pace, I would take my turn up front and next thing I knew I was all alone. This happened several times as I was just trying to return the favor. I am not sure if I pulled harder than they did or if they just didn’t like holding a wheel on the gravel.

Some groups would stay together longer than others, but it never seemed to stick. A big group came rolling along and I jumped on with them. There were some familiar faces in there and they were much stronger than I expected to be able to hang with. I was not doing badly, but the back tire was going low again. This was more evident on the road sections. The group also got split up on one of the road crossings that looked to maybe also be a water stop. We kept going but I finally had to pull over to shoot some air in it before I really flatted or wiped out from it being so low.

It didn’t take very long, but I was all alone to try and figure out a new plan. To my luck I was following some riders up ahead and next thing I knew they were heading toward me. I guess they missed a turn and we had to go back for it. This let me hook up with a rider that I had been with earlier. He put in a good pull so I went to return the favor. There were three other guys just up the road. After I bridged up to them I looked back to see that the other rider was no longer on my wheel. I felt bad that I dropped him since he had done a lot of work for me up to that point, but not bad enough that I dropped back for him. It seemed like two of the guys I was with knew the route. This was a good thing since my plan was not working.

This section was fairly tough with the wind and the deeper gravel sections that the group was split up. Where there were 4 now there was just two of us off the front. We took turns pulling and just trying to keep moving as fast as possible. I was starting to struggle some again, but not bad enough that I was dropped. After a few sections of road we saw two riders up ahead looking like they were not sure what direction to turn. We yelled up ahead what was to go and with the traffic we all ended up being together. In this duo was a People’s Brewing single speeder that I knew and felt better actually knowing someone in the group. But, I was surprised that I caught him and figured that he could leave us anytime he wanted to.

Somewhere along the way we dropped the fourth rider and we were down to only three left. The miles were adding up and I knew we had to be betting close to the end. This point in the race it was very nice having someone that knew where we were going. It would have been a mess trying to figure out where we were on the map and where we needed to go. At one point I was pulling and thought the navigator was on my wheel. Turns out it was the People’s guy and we dropped the other guy. He was nice enough to yell at us and we had to turn around and catch back up to him.

I was feeling better than I was earlier and felt like I could have dropped our navigator at any point. I told the other guy that I was not going to challenge the navigator because without him I would have been much farther back and probably still looking at a map. The route was starting to look familiar and not long after we hit the double track, I popped out and jumped on the pedals like I was doing a break away. I only did it for a few seconds and then sat up and said, just joking. I am not sure what he thought since he didn’t really say much. I squeezed back in behind him and rolled across the finish line in 9th place for masters 40-49. As it turns out, the guy in front of me was also in my age group, but even if I knew that I would not have passed him at the line. I was way too valuable to have someone know the way.

The route really didn’t have much climbing at all. I normally would have thought that would be a good thing, but this race was no joke. I was hurting bad when I finished. Maybe it was that I just really pushed myself, but the truth is that we were on the gas for the entire race. Late in the day I was begging for another road section or a climb just so I could coast some. It was either the wind or deep gravel or probably a little of both, but even when drafting off of someone you could not really coast.

I will say they did a good job of having people directing the racers earlier in the day. I am not sure if that continued all day since I was no longer in contact with the front group. I am glad that I kept in contact with other riders and at least a few of them knew where they were going. I would like to thank Tim Cassidy and Nebo Ridge bicycles for putting on this race. I enjoy the gravel stuff and glad to see more options popping up. I hope to make it back again next year.

 

Posted in Gravel, gravel, Racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | 3 Comments