Friday, September 29, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Can You Feel It?

This request was made yesterday:

"I would like to request a blog written about "the Zone". Pele' described it as a strange calmness,... feeling of invinciblity.Thank you Zen Master."

I must first warn you that I am slightly busy with work these days so I shall write this strictly from my opinion and do no extra research. Am I allowed to do that? You betcha.

Anyone who has had a great day doing what you love to do, has probably experienced the "zone". In a way it is Zen because you are thinking of nothing but the task at hand. I will give you a short list of people that I am sure have experienced the big Z as I will refer to it. If my spelling is off you must forgive me, as I said I am doing no research. Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nickalus, Larry Bird, Ned Overend (That one is for you Joe), Nolan Ryan, Gandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mozart Bode Miller (I don't know if he has experienced the zone without medical help). Those are a few people off the top of my head.

So as you can see I included people who aren't athlete's as well. I believe when Mr. King was giving his speeches he was probably experiencing the jubilation of the big Z. Mozart most certainly understood what the big Z was.

So now what is it? In my opinion it is when you can think of nothing else but the task at hand. You apply yourself so whole heartedly that the sound of someone screaming "nunan nuuunan" couldn't break your concentration. Nolan probably experienced it throwing a no-hitter. Ned has experienced it while maintaining 190 heartbeats a minute.

Have I experienced it? Yes sometimes in High School while playing golf I experienced the zone. The place I noticed it more than any other was on the green. It is as though the hole becomes a gigantic blackhole and your ball can't miss it. I have experienced it in minor doses on my bike. When you get that feeling that you are floating around through the woods instead of actually pedaling. Sometimes when I crash I am in the zone. You look around and try to figure out how in the world you could be laying amongst rocks, trees and bicycles but yet not have a bruise. Many people have tried to explain how this happens down to a physiological level. I am not so concerned with that in this rant but if you are read "Deep Survival, who lives who dies and why." This book explains it very well.

Something happens in those moments when you are in the big Z. The world gets quiet and sometimes it may seem as though the world has slowed down just for you. You saw things with an innate clearness that you wouldn't normally see. What is this? It is adrenaline working within the body to help you through what the body sees as potential danger.

I believe we all have the potential to become a part of the big Z in our lives. It is just a matter of knowing what it is that takes you there. So today I ask you to think about the times that you have experienced the zone. It could be anything anytime anywhere, so leave a comment and tell me when your favorite big Z moment.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

He is My Best Good Friend

That doesn't happen every day. Yes I like to quote "Forest Gump" a lot. That's what happens when you watch it six to 7,000 times.

As we all know, this is my BLOG dedication week. I started with good ol' Mozart, did a tid bit on Forest people yesterday and now here we are today. That guy in the picture is Michael Field. He and I met when we were around 10 years old. Man we have known each other for over 17 years now.

We met in good ol' Hoosier town. That's Indiana for you South Paw's. Michael and his mom and dad had just moved from San Diego when baseball season was starting. My dad was the head coach and we hit it off immediately. Before I knew it, I was his first catcher and he my first and only pitcher. Now you have to understand something here, Michael didn't throw like the other pitchers in the league. He threw hard and wild.

I specifically remember one day when I was taking batting practice and he was pitching. I went for an inside ball and I heard the bat make that awful sound it makes when aluminum gets hurt. As bikers we all know the sound. The only problem was that the ball went off my thumb too. Nobody ever really thought it hit my thumb because of the sound it made. However, the doctor confirmed that a few millimeters in either direction and it would have been broke. Thanks for not breaking my finger Michael.

During summers we were inseparable. I was either at his house or he at mine. When I found out that we would be moving four houses down from him and his family. Well I think you can imagine.

So we grew up together doing all sorts of stupid kid things and having a blast the entire time. I can't tell all the stories because that would take ages. However I can tell you that I remember our first break up. We were jumping around on my trampoline when Michael spiked me. You know that pre-jump thing that makes people go really high. Well I was landing on my back when he spiked and my legs shot directly at his chest. I nailed him. Really I took him out. He went flying backwards off the trampoline and landed on his back. Got up pretty pissed and crying. He ran home and said "I'm never coming back." It was over forever. Quit crying people, he was back at my house the next day.

Now wait a tic here. Isn't this supposed to be about bikes? Hold on I am getting there. If I can relate Mozart to bikes, surely I can do this.

Michael was a good pitcher for a long time. I didn't stick with baseball. So in high school we parted ways for awhile. Then college came and he still pitched and I was still golfing. Michael was throwing more accurate and throwing hard. I remember one summer day during college break I was going to throw some long toss with him. I could hardly get the ball to where he was standing and every time the ball came my way I thought my head was going to get blown off.

While growing up I always wondered how he could throw harder than me. I asked him one day and he said "All you have to do, is move your arm faster." That's why I liked him so much. He has a simple philosophy about life and can be apart for a long time. Once we get back together it is as though we live next to each other.

During college Michael threw his arm out and had to have a couple shoulder surgeries that put his career as a pitcher to an end. My golf career ended my first year at school.

Michael was very lucky and met a wonderful woman during college. So our last hiatus together was our spring break trip Senior year. We went on a cruise and probably had more fun on a cruise than two people are supposed to have. He bought a really nice ring for his soon to be wife.

Next thing I know, I am the best man. The wedding rocked. Now Michael and his wife live in Bloomington Indiana and as you know I live here in SC. We get to see each other about three or four times a year.

So why am I dedicating all of this to Michael? Well just the other day I called him up and he told me that he is training for a half marathon. That blew me away. I don't think I have seen him exercise much more than frisbee since college. I don't say anything about it because he is my best friend and he can do what he wants. However I would like to see him live a long a prosperous life. So I was stoked to hear he had the motivation to train a little. I don't know what has motivated him. It could have been that beer that he was able to balance perfectly on his gut during our spring break trip. It could be his wife telling him to get his butt off the couch and run with her. Maybe, just maybe even my biking has influenced him in a way that makes him want to get into shape. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. If you see him running, tell him good job. It's little things like this that keep us going. Seeing progress and feeling good about one's self.

I have motivated a few people before. Heck, even my dad said he drug his bike out for a short spin in the back yard the other day. So what I say to you today is to motivate somebody else. If you have a best friend, call them up and chat nicely.

Luckily I will see Michael real soon. Peace out Brother!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Unexpected Dirt

Got out for a unexpected SS ride yesterday. I met up with Andrew and Ty for a ride out at Paris Mountain. Ty rode a SS, so I had someone to share the pain with.

Ty is the head ranger out at Paris and does an excellent job of organizing activities, creating trail work days and keeping the users of the park happy in general. He is responsible for giving us a great place locally to ride in Greenville. Before he was ranger at the park, there was only one trail open to Mountain Bikes. Now there are 18 miles of trail, with another six on the way.

At first they started with "multiple use trails," where hikers are allowed one day and bikers another. Eventually it came to be that we are allowed to ride every day except the busy day Saturday. This is really nice because without this the closest place for singletrack is over 40 minutes away.

So I dedicate today's post to people that are in Ty's position. Forest Service representatives, rangers, trail workers and anyone else who creates the awesome network of trails that we have to ride in SC and NC.

I have met quite a few rangers in SC that also ride Mountain bikes. This helps our community out a bunch since many times bikers are considered to be reckless and cause un-necessary erosion. Luckily due to a study that IMBA published, it showed that bikes (when used properly) have the same impact to trails as hikers. Yay us!

So here is my list of people that maintain trail systems or are ambassadors of our sport.

"Ranger Bob" - Harbison State Forest
"Two guys that I should know their name but don't" - Manchester State Forest (Sumter SC)
Ty - Ranger Paris Mountain
Bill - Ambassador/TrailBuilder FATS (Clarks Hill SC)
Todd - TrailBuilder FATS (Clarks Hill SC)/NC
Navy - Marrington Plantation Charleston SC
Clemson - Issaqueena (Sorry I don't know who is responsible for most of the maintenance there)
SORBA - Pisgah National Forest/Bent Creek
DIVA - Charlotte NC

I think that's all I know off the top of my head. If you know somebody that maintains trails or is an ambassador of our sport give them a hug today and let them know that you too are a Mountain Bike Freak and you appreciate their efforts.

Tomorrow I shall be dedicating my BLOG to my best friend. Stay alert because that one will make you laugh until milk comes out your nose.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Bicycles?

This week I am dedicating all of my posts to other people. Why? Why not is what I ask of you.

When I typed of this last week, I only had one legitimate repy from Team Dicky. So regarding the bloggers code of ethics that I am creating as I go I shall meet his demands. He suggested that I dedicate a post to Wolfgang Mozart. He even challanged me to make it bike related. Oh, a challange you say? I don't take challanges lightly. So I hope you all enjoy this.

Mozart was born in Salzburg Austia in 1756. He lived to the ripe old age of 35. He composed his first symphony when he was eight years of age. I think I leaned to ride a bike somtime around 8 or 9 years of age.

While researching this remarkable historical figure I found out some interesting facts.

Mozart supposedly learned to speak 15 different languages.

He played the keyboard and violin.

Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave due to the fact that he spent all of his money on bicycles or something else worthy of money.

Mozart composed more than 600 works before his death.

He died in 1791.

So you may be asking yourself how in the world this is related to bicycling? Here we go.

According to this resource, the first bicycle was built in 1791 in France. So this means that Wolfgang probably didn't even see a bicycle. However he had to know of the concept since Leanardo DaVinci came up with the idea much earlier in time. This "first bike" was known as the wooden horse. It was a simple contraption made from two wheels and two forks bolted together by a board. It was known as a "running machine" since the only way to get it to go was to move it with your feet. Besides the fastenings, it was composed entirely of wood. Let's see you enduro nut jobs do a race on one of these bad boys next year. Oh yeah, did I mention that this thing didn't have any sort of steering mechanism either. Just do it!

Since this tied in so nicely with the history of the bike. Here are some other interesting tid bits about bikes:

Soon after the "wooden horse" was made, velocipede's were fashioned with crude steering devices. Can we get a pedal or a crank here? Somebody throw me a friggin chain here. People who rode this awesome machines were known as Velocipedestrians. Sweet word huh? I would like to be associated with that word anyway.

In 1865, a Frenchman, Ernest Michaux, added pedals by attaching two rods with nails on the ends to the axle of the front wheel?this contraption was now called the Michaudine. Since there were no gears or cranks, each pedal revolution caused the bike to move a distance equal to the circumference of the wheel.

Whoa, its the invention of the "fixie!" This is making things awfully easy.

Bikes were made with a large front wheel and a smaller back wheel. After people got tired of flipping over the bars from each pebble they encountered on the road, safety bikes were made. These bikes had a larger back wheel to prevent the ease of flipping.

From there we all know what happened next. Drivetrains were built. Chains were fashioned. Gears even came available, but for heaven's sake who in the world would want this technology?

I hope you have enjoyed this piece. Who's on tap for tomorrow? Well I don't even know yet so don't tell me because that might freak me out to know that you know more than I know about my thoughts.

Some references used:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Last Vacation Picture post so Enjoy!

Finishing Vacation Pictures

This is the end of the previous post:

We had this view from our campground:

After the overnight trip, we retreated to a cabin for the last night of the trip:

Vacation Passion, Some Bike Stuff Too!

Kristin sent me the vacation pictures so here is the full report on our vacation.
Here are some vacation facts from our recent trip.

In two weeks on the road, no fast food restaraunt was partook.

A bunch of tolls but the Chesepeake Bay Bridge was a $12.00 dollar toll!

One Broken Bike rack:

Traveled from Greenville to Stokesville VA to Virginia Beach to D.C. to Fayateville W.VA back to Greenville.

This won't be in chronological order so that I can get you biker nutt jobs your dose before you awwwwwwwwwwww freak out!

This is the "Wright Brothers" bike. I can't remember what brother. Yes they produced bikes and sold them as a lead into flying. Pretty cool huh? It resides in the National Air and Space Museum.

These are some rockets in the Museum.

Kristin "The Angel" before dinner in D.C.

From D.C. we went rafting on the Gauley. We did the overnight trip and it was a blast. Here I am making an advertisement for them and yes that is our "chef" playing the guitar in the background.

For some reason Blogger has decided not to upload anymore images. I will try to complete the post with another post.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

26" Geared content

For the first time since the SM-100, I got my CAKE ready to ride again. My position on the bike is still off since I haven't had time to make it by the shop yet but I was craving dirt and the SS has a torn sidewall in one of the tires. Therefore, I am forced to ride a full squish with gears.

I can tell you that the smaller bigger wheel size makes a big difference when rolling over obstacles. Even though one bike is suspended and the other is not, there is still a noticeable difference.

So I rode Paris Mountain last night. I almost ran directly into this guy. Or at least I think it was him.

While riding around the lake loop, I came upon a dog that didn't seem to have an owner. He barked at me and then went on his way. Where the heck was this dog's master?

Caution! A PO'd biker's comments ahead:

Apparently I am low on the food chain at Paris as well. First off I noticed that the trails are really rutted from skid marks lately. Come on people if you have to skid go out on the pavement and ruin your tires not the trail. Second of all, I came up behind some hikers and I have been extremely cautions since this email came out about rude bikers. So I quietly approached them and just as I was about to ask for a pass the gentleman saw me and he and his wife almost jumped out of there skin. They both had the look of fear in their eyes. I am positive this is from crazy bikers. Now I will be one to admit that when I go downhill I am normally moving at a decent clip. However, almost always I can come to a stop without skidding. Heck, I stopped everybody on Sunday's ride after flying around a rocky downhill at Dupont when I came upon two horses that knew I was coming but didn't notify me that they were around the corner. I still came to a controlled stop and warned the others to stop before it got dangerous.

So after I re-passed the hikers when going back up Brissy ridge I started heading up and out. Well as I was really getting in a groove climbing I looked up to see about 4 bikers headed at me. They shouted at me and yelled that they had seven guys back. Not one of them even feathered the brake. In case you don't know UPHILL RIDERS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY! This is especially critical at a place like Paris where the ups are really up and the downs are really down. This ticks me off because I am sure they are the ones who are skidding and causing a bad name for us. Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"I'm just runnnnnniinnnnng"

Forest didn't even know why he went running he just did it because it was something to do. That's kind of how I feel about running. I surely will never run as far as this guy!

I did my normal loop last night through the park. Some interesting thoughts came into my head while running. There is about two miles of dirt single track in the city that I run on in this loop and while on one section I passed some local high school cross country runners. Most passed with a simple head nod or the death stare. The last fellow that I passed was quite a bit smaller than the other kids and he said "good job, good job" when I ran past. I thought that was great. Either he thought I had failed a few grades and was out running on the team with him, he was being a smart butt or he was genuinely telling me good job. Either way it doesn't really matter because I enjoyed the thoughts it produced.

While on another section of single track I ran across a bridge that I always run across but it had "slippery when wet" signs up on it yesterday. Makes me wonder who fell to get the signs up. As a mountain biker, we know how treacherous a wet bridge can be. They honestly scare the crap out of me when biking if there is no metal mesh covering. Anyway it didn't matter today because I was running full.

I actually "dabbed" on my run last night. Not the way a mountain biker would dab because that would mean that I dabbed all the way around town. However while running up some steps thinking about who knows what. Obviously I wasn't thinking about running. I missed a step and caught myself with my hand before my knee was busted.

I have had a lot of thoughts about the blog lately. It is too self consuming. Others even believe that us bloggers might be "self absorbed." Maybe that is true and that is why next week I will dedicate at least two days to blogging about someone other than myself. Anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Not Exciting But Funny

So the Gathering is coming up soon. That same weekend the TFFL (Tabacco Free For Life) ride is happening as well. Both of these events are for fun, one benefits a good cause the other benefits a strong liver. I will let you figure out which one is which.

Some highlights from the weekend that I thought about. Our good buddy Russell was flying behind myself and Paul as we came upon a ginourmous mud puddle. Since I had ridden the trail lately I knew the only line was to the right. I called right side and Paul followed me through. I glanced back to see if everyone had seen/heard the call and right as I did Russell decided the good line was to bunny hop the dark mud and land on the "hard" light mud. Well unbeknownst to him it was all very sticky squishy mud. So as I looked back I saw him fly through the air only to land and make that ever so sexy "schlock schlick" sound. Yah he looked good after that. Paul got a picture but I am sure I won't see it in a while.

Well I know you all were dying for a picture and since nobody sent me any yet I posted a picture that Mr. Wooglin took while riding Dupont the same day as us. Thanks Chris! Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2006

One Weekend Two Rides and a Big Party

Over the weekend I found out that there might be a few readers of this blog that aren't my direct family. Huh how about that? So I will do my best to keep things entertaining for you folks. I would hate for you to be "burning the clock" with something that is un-entertaining.

Saturday I headed with a few friends up to NC. We parked at the Ranger Station off of 276 and headed out for a short ride in the Pisgah National Forest (PNF). Our route was 276 --> 477 --> Clawhammer --> Maxwell Cove --> Black Mountain --> Grassy Road --> Sycamore Cove.

This was my first single speed ride in the big mountains. It was tough in spots but worked out really nicely. It was really beautiful outside this weekend and if you weren't out there well too bad for you. Once we made it to Pressely Gap for a quick break, we started seeing some riders come from the bottom of Black Mountian. I always like to see that people still climb this section. I will only climb that section when I am forced too. (i.e. PMBAR) The last time I was at Pressley Gap was during that race. Anyway, these fellows that had just climbed Black explained to me that they were from Ontario (that's Canada) and it was there first ride in PNF. They wanted to know where we had come from and I told them. They asked if that was an easier route up. Ummmmmm yah. They were not happy. They had asked a local woman who works in Backcountry Outfitters where to go. She told them but she gave them the slightly masochistic route and they didn't think that was funny. I gave them some incentive and direction and put them on there way "A"!

The ride was great and we all had a jolly good time. From there we cruised over to the 24 Hours of Pisgah to check in on the action. Actually we just went to party. It was a great time and I saw some friends. Pitched a tent and rang my cowbell at every rider for about 3 hours.

Sunday I got up early and dropped water off for our big ride at Dupont. A good amount of riders showed up and we were off like wild beasts craving single track. Everyone laughed at my gearless self because Toby didn't show up and he was supposed to be SS'ing with me. Where were ya "Mr. I am training for the Worlds?" So as everyone's bikes made that familiar "clink chink" sound I just rolled on.

The day was great and everyone was rolling safely until I found out our new friend Dave had flatted while running tubeless. He had broken his presta valve and his only tube had a slice in it. I rode back to the group gathered up a tube and headed back. Ok it didn't happen that way exactly. This was a technical decent and in my haste to keep people from waiting I lost focus and all the sudden I wasn't holding my handle bars anymore. I looked down and my front wheel thought it was in some sort of Disco movie with John Travolta. This was bad and before I knew it I hit the dirt face first with a "uuhhhhhhhhh." As I was spitting sand, I rode back to help Dave and that was that.

The rest of the ride was great and the boys enjoyed my precise water dropedness. Thanks for all those who came out this weekend and I look forward to doing it again real soon.

The Pisgah Gathering is coming up soon. Stay tuned for details. If anyone has pictures from the weekend mail them to me and I will post them asap.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Dirt and Smashed Bike Racks

Finally got some riding in yesterday. It is amazing how much you can lose from being off the bike for two weeks. On the big efforts my heart rate was high enough to power something. I am not sure what that something is but my heart rate was there. Riding out at Paris is a different type of riding. It really never lets up until the end. For the most part you are either going up or down, there really is nothing in-between. This makes for some exciting riding but it can become tiresome if you are looking for an easy day.

I was able to add a few links to my chain so that I could install my 32X22 gear on the Drunken Monkey last night. That is a good gear for Paris Mountain but I think I am going to try the 32X20 for the Dupont ride on Sunday. There may be a couple spots where I have to push but that is how it goes on the SS.

Forest: "Momma what's vacation, you know where Daddy is?"
Momma: "Its a place where you go Forest and you never come back."

If this were only true, I would still be on vacation enjoying myself. Ho hum. However I do have some vacation news since I don't have any new pictures yet. Whilst staying in the One Washington Circle Hotel I had a Valet park my Escape. This was a great place for us to stay downtown because it was a central location for all that we wanted to do. So after the valet parked my car I didn't drive it until it was time to leave three days later. Well when the morning valet brought my Escape up so I could load our luggage, I went outside and noticed that the bike rack was destroyed. Cracks in the clamp and the mounting bar was bent at a 45 degree angle. Hmmmmmmm, no bike is going in that rack I couldn't even get the clamp to open up. I was very calm and collected for the most part. Come to find out it was the guy who parked the car that actually hit the roof in the basement. So he tried to hide it from me. I can't imagine that he has his job anymore but maybe I am wrong. We got more than half off our stay for the hotel and I talked to the General Manager yesterday. After a silence standoff on the phone he agreed to buy a new rack. We will see if it actually happens. Wasn't that an exciting story?


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Well . . .

I don't have anymore pictures from vacation yet so those posts will have to wait.

Back to bike business. I am planning on mostly riding the SS this winter but I know that I will feel the need to cruise around on the CAKE every now and then too. That means some adjusting needs to be done. Since I have a slight tendency to break things I have moved to a 21" frame from my 19" on the CAKE. I thought this was going to be very awkward but it wasn't bad. However the stem length is too long and I find myself reaching for the handlebars. That is going to be corrected ASAP.

So for now I will be riding the Drunken Monkey. My best bud re-named my bike to Drunken Monkey. He really knows nothing about bikes but something about nicknames so I will let the name stick. I am still working out my gearing a bit on the bike. For now a good cross country gear seems to be 32X19. This is a good gear for Harbison, Manchester and FATS. However now I need to work out a good gear for the mountains. I will have to either run a 32X20 or a 32X22 for this weekend's riding since those are my only other two options. I really want a 32X21 but Marshall over at endless bikes doesn't have any in stock at the moment. However he did send me the 22 and the 20 since he didn't have the 21 for me. Thanks Marshall! My ride on Saturday should dictate how I feel for Sunday. That's it for now folks. Hopefully more interesting posts later this week as I get approved vacation pictures from Kristin.

Time to go sift through two weeks of corporate email now. Yeeeeeee Hawwwwwwww.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to the regularly scheduled program

Finally back from a long vacation and I feel the need to ride badly. Of course, when you desire to ride the most is when the weather turns on you. Oh well it looks like the weekend is shaping up to be nice and thats what really counts because there are big "to do's" this weekend.

A ride that I have been organizing and super excited for is coming up this Sunday. This time of the year is by far my favorite time to ride. The summer is over and it is time to go on beer rides and just really enjoy the great places that we live to ride.

Dicky made a very philisophical post this morning. Maybe the rain is getting to his head but it made me laugh and it might make you laugh so check it out. He also brought up a point that I didn't really want to touch on this early in my blogging career but since he did it I feel as though I must clarify.

What is ExtrmTao anyway? I use it as my screen name on everything. Why? Does it mean "Extreme tomatoes" or what? Well a long time ago when I signed up for my first Bulliten board on the Internet I used that screen name. It was appropriate at the time because I was in Martial Arts studying JuJitsu and Taoism. During this time we would also practice a meditation named Zen. The meditation can be very healing. You sit on your knees or Indian Style and try to clear your mind of all thought. My instructor used to say that you are a master if you can clear your mind for longer than 10 seconds. How would you ever really know anyway? What does all this have to do with biking?

My instructor once said "Martial Arts may not be for you but maybe it will lead you to something that is for you." I think I knew what he meant when he said that. If not, I definitely do now. For now, it has led me to Mountain Biking. I am addicted and I have found that this sport is very philisophical for me now. There is something about a long gravel grind or a sweet fast decent that takes all life and puts it aside for a moment. Many times I tell my friends that I know when I really enjoy a trail because I will get done negotiating the features of the single track then think to myself "All I was thinking about was riding at that particular moment." and that in its own particular way is Zen. Maybe not in its purest form but it definitely gets close.

So back to the point here. "ExtrmTao" is my short name for "Extreme Taoism." Sure maybe it is cheesy and you don't find any meaning in it. Well good because its not for you its for me. It means something to me and more than that most everything I sign up for online has this screename available. That's right folks I have simplified my online life with one simple screen name that noone else understands. That is most definitely Zen.

Many of the things that I used to do in Martial Arts translate to Mountain Biking. I will give one example for now. We used to practice falling and rolls in class. There is actually a technique to falling that will prevent major injury. Basically what you do is try to focus the main blow and power to the big meaty muscle parts of your body. Maintaining momentum is also a key initiative to falling. You don't want everything to stop at once or you will get hurt. This translates easily to riding because as riders we fall all the time. Well I do anyway. Most times I come out with minor injuries at most. I attribute this to the falling skills that were taught to me at an early age in this class. Maybe I have some cat blood but I don't think that is it. I will post more thoughts on these connections later.

Well I hope this clears things up a little. Now get out there and ride your bikes for the pure love of it. If riding bikes isn't your love then get out there and find something on your own.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Glorious Day

I am finally able to write the SM-100 report. I am currently sitting downtown in our nation's capitol writting this. This is the first time we have had internet access since we left for Vacation.

So I will get to the facts for all of you who are dying to know.

I didn't finish the race. I made it to checkpoint five which was 75 miles into the course.

I had one great experience on a awsomely beautiful day.

So here is the report:

The wake up gong rang just after my alarm on my cell phone went off. I rustled myself awake trying not to wake Kristin while it was still dark outside. Once I made it out of the tent the stars were out and looking great. The morning was crisp but not too cool. I tried my best to choke down some wheaties and a bannana. The bannana gave me gag reflex and I had to let it go for later. I had everything prepared in our tent and was all set to go.

Kristin was going to be volunteering at checkpoint 3 about 45 miles into the race so she tried to sleep while I prepared. I noticed quickly that the start line was going to be right by the tent soI went over and warned Kristin that her sleep might be interuppted by 400 racers.

Everyone gathered quickly at the start. I looked over at out tent as the motor bikes that were supposed to lead us down the road reved their engines right next to the tent. I figured that was the end of Kristin's sleep. At the start I found myself next to "Josh the Wonderboy", we chatted and then the race was on.

The beginning of the race was normal except for the fact that one of the motor bikes stalled and all 400 of us had to weave around the bike as the rider tried to kick start the bike back to life. I thought for sure this would cause problems but everyone seemed to have gotten around safely.

The first miles were easy and rolling. The first fire road climb was decently steep and I knew if things continued like this it was going to be a long long day. I made it up the first climb with no incidents and headed for the first single track of the day.

I brought some major free riding tires with me for the very purpose that I knew things were going to be rocky and I knew I would be riding not racing and I wanted to have as much fun as possible. As soon as we hit the first single track I knew I had made the right decision. There were rocks everywhere and they were slippery. I wasn't really on my game at this point and had to push a little more than I liked. At this point I thought of Rich, and how he was riding a fixed gear with skinny tires. I wondered how much he had to push.

The first downhill was fun and fast as I passed a few riders. My tires were grabbing onto the dirt and not letting go.

Past checkpoint one I didn't stop and just kept rolling. As I headed to the second single track climb I met up with Peter from VA riding a Karate Monkey and Bellina. (sorry if that isn't spelled right) They were both nice to chat with and as we approached the climb Bellina took off ahead while Peter and I pushed and talked. This was a long long push up to the top. Once there I was ready for some downhilling. A younger rider and myself started rolling pretty fast downhill. I was really feeling good at this point and I was working the bike on the downhill and having a blast. A quick uphill caused me to get off my bike and walk while my friend came up behind me and said "Hey your pocket is open on your camel bak." Whoops he closed it for me and I just hoped nothing had hopped out. I wasn't going back at this point. I figured I had left it open at the first single track when I stopped to adjust my seat. Things on my bike were good but still not dialed in properly since I hadn't been on the bike before.

The second downhill of the day was out of the way and I started rolling down some forest roads headed for checkpoint 2. On my way down the fireroad I came up behind a truck that was doing his best to stay ahead of me on the downhill road. Finally out of pity he let me go around. Now I was racing trucks too.

When I arrived at checkpoint 2 there was this sweet little girl holding out a peanut jelly sandwich for me and I couldn't refuse it. I took it and eventually ate it. I refilled, visited my drop bag and took off for checkpoint 3.

I was told the ride to checkpoint 3 was a long climb followed by a long downhill. This was true. The climb was long but not too bad. The downhill was one of the greatest I have ever ridden. If you can picture a trail that is about the width of your hand, and then set the trail in the middle of the woods with a steep drop off to your left. Then take that trail and angle it about 10 degrees off camber pointing down the steep hill. Throw in some slick roots and a lot of rock and you have the perfect equation for a fast steep dangerous downhill. Afterwards I was told that many people hurt themselves here. You couldn't have told me that. I was flying and really feeling the rythm. You could gain enough speed to actually cut into the trail and make it feel as though it were banked against the hill instead of off camber. You could quickly lose focus and your day would be done. I saw a couple riders whose focus was gone. Every ten feet or so they would bobble then slide off the trail cursing. This was no place to lose your foucs.

I came down off the hill extremely elated. I came up to checkpoint 3 and saw Kristin. We chatted for a bit, she filled my camel bak and I tried to eat which was tough at this point. I was already behind pace a little and it was time to get going.

The next section would prove to be tough. I started cramping as soon as I headed out onto the road from checkpoint 3. This was tough because we were on a busy road and my legs were locking up. I tried focusing my Zen powers as well as I could and eventually overcame the cramps but I knew that they would be back. This road section was the only part I didn't like. We were on a busy road and apparently Virginia isn't for lovers when it involves bikers and trucks. One truck came close enough to me to pierce my ear.

Finally off the road and back onto dirt. This section would prove to be very tough. The climb was all hike a bike for me and most everyone around me at that point. I was tired, having problems eating and I was becoming lethargic. I eventually made it to the top and found some other riders resting at the top. This group of riders would become my band of friends over the next few miles.

We negotiated the downhill together as a group and eventually made it to checkpoint 4. As a group we realized that we were way behind schedule and that we might have a chance to make it but it would be very late. There was myself, an Australian, three other guys and a young woman. I am sorry that I can't remember everyone's names. The young lady had a friend riding with her for this section of the race. Just as moral support. I was told that this section was 20 miles long and mostly uphill. It would turn out to the be the longest 20 miles of my life.

I wasn't feeling good. I was cramping and I still wasn't able to eat or hydrate enough. As a group I figured we could feed off of each other and keep moving. We were brothers and sisters banded together by some sort of sadomasichistic biking adventure. It was undoubtly known that no matter what we would be "friends to the end. ~Chucky"

I chatted with my new friend from Australia for a long time going up the hill. We would walk some and then get back on and ride some. We chatted about whatever our minds would let us think about. At one point he said "I feel like a Bannana." I looked over and he said "not like eating a bannana but really I feel like a bannana." Somehow I knew what he meant.

I could feel my body wasting away. Things started getting really hard. I saw a car coming and it was "Chief" they main man from checkpoint 5 asking me if I was ok. "It hurts but I am still spinning" I said. About 30 seconds later I got off my bike and sat down. My gut started wrenching and I dry heaved for about 3 minutes and eventually lost some fluid. Now I was shaking. I forced myself back on the bike and up to checkpoint 5.

We were allowed to go on if we wanted. It was 6:00 and we had been on the bike for almost 12 hours. It would be another 5 if we wanted to finish. I did not want to quit but at the same time I had to quit. I took a moment to think about my situation and it occured to me that I would have my first DNF ever in an endurance race. It was not safe for me to go on. I know my limits and I had reached them. I could no longer endure what my body had been rejecting for the last 30 miles. My day was over. Some of my friends quit with me but three of them went on to finish. An epic struggle is what they endured. I am proud of them. They are the true heroes of the day. They finished the last miles with no lights but stayed banded together.

This has left an empty spot in my soul which I cannot describe. A DNF in a cross country race is so much different than this. I can't explain it. If you have ever raced endurance before you know. Otherwise you don't. I will be back next year and I will have a reckoning.

Thanks to everyone that cheered me on. Thanks to the volunteers at the event you guys are t he best! Thanks to Chris for putting the event on. Thanks to Scud for staying up all night two nights in a row cooking for us freaks.

Next year I will hit the gong.

Pictures to come later. Now I must enjoy our nation's capitol!

Friday, September 01, 2006

BDE One-Hundred Mile Vacation

So what is this "BDE One-Hundred Mile Vacation" you ask? Its what happens when two super geeks get together and plan a vacation.

So let's talk race news first. Any of you who think that I am a nut ball, should check out Team Dicky's site. This guy is riding his "fixie" for the race, and teeny tiny skinny tires. Don't know what a fixie is? Go check his site out you will see.

I love riding in the woods with nut jobs like these and there are going to be 400 of us! That's right folks 400 racers all hell bent on riding their bicycles 100 miles through some of VA's finest singletrack. I am elated. Heck, my body is already practicing getting up early.

Ernesto has done his best to ruin our plans but to no avail. Sure there will be a ton of rain but it will be all good come Sunday. Trust me racers if we get the kind of "aftermath weather" we had in G-vegas yesterday we are going to love it.

So how does one come up with this crazy idea of a vacation? I had an epiphany one day during my lunch hour. I realized that I could race a hundred miles and then raft one of the the greatest rivers the U.S. has to offer in the same week! My super-geek girlfriend Kristin filled in the rest. It takes two minds to come up with a plan this good.

First the race and then we are headed to bag some awesome beach time. First Landing is actually where our settlers landed! We will be setting up camp here on Monday after the race and on Tuesday we are kayaking with these folks on this trip. After a couple days on the beach, we are headed to our nation's capitol. We will be staying downtown very close to the capitol and the metro for our travel enjoyment without a car. Thursday we are going to watch "Shear Madness." Friday will be spent doing all the things a first time visitor to the District of Columbia should and then out on the town for Friday night.

Now we tie into the good stuff. Saturday we will make our leisurely trip back into the heart of the country W.VA. We will be headed to Fayatteville to celebrate the opening of Gauley season. That's right let the summersville dam open up for some of the best white water around. This trip is not for the light of heart and we did it last year. The river wanted us to know who was the boss. Trust me, this "old man river" will take your shoe and your life if you are not on top of your game. Don't worry though we are skilled in how to safely assist in our own rescue. We will be rafting with Class VI on their overnight Gauley trip.

Wow that is a vacation! So that is what happens when two awesome people that have a passion for the outdoors get together and plan plan plan. How can you have your own BDE adventure? More on that later.

Stay tuned for updates throughout our trip as WiFi allows.

Peace out for now y'all!