Thursday, November 30, 2006

Are You a Mudder?

My Mom was the one to explain what a Mudder was to me. She told me that a Mudder was a horse that won races during adverse weather. Therefore, the horse was either not affected by rain and mud or motivated in some form by it. Maybe, it is the fact that the horse is “designed” better for the mud.

I went for a short run before hitting the gym last night. This is the first time I have done any form of exercise since Sunday. I was motivated by the rain tonight. I don’t know what it is but sometimes I am compelled to run in adverse conditions.

I consider myself a Mudder at times. I like it when everyone’s hopes are down just because Mother Nature dealt us a face card when we were sitting with 12 at the $100 blackjack table. Late this summer I went running after a hard rain. I found that the river was completely overflowed to the point that I had to wade through the overflow twice. It was my favorite day of running.

I think most dedicated single speeders would agree with this theory. Take twenty-four hours of Moab this year. They had torrential downpours and it was the first year that a four man Single Speed team won. Not to mention, that a single speed is also designed better for adverse conditions since there are less moving parts.

The reason I bring this up is to stimulate thought. Are you a Mudder? Do you lie under the bed and wish it would just stop raining or do you thrive? I want to hear from you out there. Yes, I am talking to you, the one reading my words at this very moment. I know your out there reading this; don’t make me hunt you down to get an answer.

That means you Grandma Mangum. Are you a Mudder?

I know your not Lezlee but you can still leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Witch

What would you do if you owned one these, and 400,000 acres of land somwhere cool?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


After Sunday's ride, I need some serious rest. I have been going at it pretty hard lately and it is time to leave the bike alone until the weekend. What does everyone do when they don't ride their bikes during the week? It seems like a waste not to take advantage of the late park hours tonight. Hmmmmmmmm.

The Drunken Monkey needs some serious TLC. That will be addressed soon. Single Speeder's beware, I should get my squishy geared bike back this weekend. Some trail domination is what I am planning for Saturday. We will see if this wonderful technology we call suspension will hold up for a cross country ride. It will be on 26" wheels too.

Here are some pictures from the weekend. I wanted to load more and I might try to get some more loaded later. For now this is what Blogger would allow.

Dave says "Huh, I guess I could ride this thing today."

My bike dropped from heaven just to cross this creek with me.

My dad leading the troops through the woods. Notice the shirt. Smart man.

This is the way my bike looked for most of the day on Sunday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Trail Karma

This weekend was full of mountain biking, friends and family and beautiful weather. The first ride of the weekend was my birthday ride. We had fifteen people show up and it was a blast. I am working on a picture montage for posting later this week. For now I must report on yesterday’s ride.

Yesterday ten of us met at the Kitsuma trailhead for an all day feast of dirt and sun. I will probably screw this up but I will try to name names anyway. Eric, Rich, Erina, Jody, Jessie, Ben, Bill, Drew are all the names I can recall.

Since I had helped Woody with Trail Dynamics move a log on Friday, I figured my trail karma was bright as a daisy. Well apparently I am no huckleberry, because this was not going to be my day on the bike.

We started out climbing the switchbacks of Kitsuma and it went the way it always goes. Ride a little walk a little. Once we made it to the top, we were off on the first single track downhill of the day. Kitsuma is fun and fast but it has seen to much use over the past few years. Most likely ORAMM has attributed to this. The ruts that have formed in some sections of the trail are pretty tough to deal with. Partway down the trail, I found myself behind Eric and luckily he stopped to shake his hands out after a bit. It gave me an excuse to stop as well. The downhills in this part of the forest are long and very fast. We continued on and made it down without mishap.

Everyone re-convened at the bottom and off we went to cross the railroad and head up to Star Gap. Going down the connector from Star Gap to the grassy road is where my troubles for the day began. We started the downhill and I ended up with Drew in front of me and Rich behind me. Drew made a move over a set of logs and I slowed down more than I would have normally for my own move across the logs. Well I committed myself to the move when I should have bailed. I didn’t have the speed or strength to get my front wheel up high enough and planted it right in the middle of the log instead of on top where it should have been. Well the next thing I knew my ribs were smashing the log. I was struggling to get out from in-between the log and my bike when I was asked if I was ok. Sure it felt as though Mike Tyson landed a punch to my ribs but I was ok. Rich apparently was thinking optimistically as he said “He’s not all right.”

I got back up and finished the downhill without a hitch. Actually I cleaned all the switchbacks going down. I am normally not a good switchbacker but it was one of those days.

My next mishap was on the grassy road to Curtis Creek. I was railing a turn when both my wheels slipped out of nowhere. I went down hard enough to hear my helmet whack the ground as I hit. This one hurt even more than the first. I received a nice gash on the side of my leg from this one.

Next up was the climb to the Parkway via Curtis Creek road. Eric and I had never made this nine miles on our singles before and we were wondering how it was going to go. I had to walk a couple of the steeper pitches but I was pleased with my attempt.

I knew it was a special day when I got to the parkway, laid down and noticed that the air wasn’t moving. I have never seen a day that beautiful in late November. We climbed up the parkway taking in all the vistas along the way. It was amazing to see a barren landscape after the crazy fall colors we had this year. Not a leaf left on any tree.

Apparently I had jarred my back wheel pretty good on one of my falls. We were rolling up the parkway when I heard pingggg, paTINK, clinky clinky, clinky clinky. One of my spokes broke in half. Eric loaned me some pliers and I yanked it out and stuck the spoke in my pack.

We made the hike a bike up to the top of Heartbreak and stopped for a rest. Jessie exclaimed that he was hitting the wall and asked for a few extra minutes to gather himself. This was good news to my ears. He proceeded to pull out an energy drink and a flask from his backpack. I asked what was in the flask since I was out of water. WHISKEY! Sweet, I took a swig and then everyone took a swig. If you can’t have water, whiskey is the next best thing.

The whiskey did not improve my Karma as I fell twice more coming down Heartbreak. We eventually made it back down Hearbreak and headed up Old 70 back to the cars.

Forty-four miles and seven and a half hours later we were back at the cars. Great ride!

Late Edit:

I met too many people this weekend. I had to go back and change some names. Told you I would get them wrong.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Freezy, Sleety, Melty, Tacky

Picture ripped from Larry Flynt. This is not meant to be political. I was looking up pictures of Taco Hell and this was the best one.

I don’t eat Taco Bell, but if anyone has access to Taco Johns and they can send me some let me know.

By some miracle of Mother Nature, we actually made it through our ride last night. Some crazy coastal storm was brewing yesterday causing some unique circumstances on the East coast. Charleston got their earliest recorded snowfall ever. Pretty crazy! Columbia saw sleet yesterday and so did Greenville. Freezing rain warnings covered two counties in North Carolina. All of this and it is only November!

So what did we do? We went riding of course. Rick and I met up with two new folk, TC and Dennis last night out at Paris Mountain. These two are in shape!

So we did the normal route at Paris. When we got to the top of the mountain we stopped for a quick break and heard something odd coming through the leaves. It was sleeting! It really wasn’t that cold and I can’t even imagine that it was sleeting at the bottom of the mountain but we saw it for sure. It was a wicked night to be out with the wind whipping around. I like Paris at night because of how remote you feel, even though you are not.

So the night was going about like any other night on a mountain bike until we started going down my favorite downhill. We made the left turn onto Brissy Ridge. The order was TC, Dennis, myself and then Rick. The top of Brissy has a small drop of about a foot and a half, TC dropped it and Dennis started easing off the ledge as I prepared to wheelie drop it. Well Dennis didn’t make it and I was too close behind him for comfort. Dennis stuck his wheel in a root that was hidden under the leaves and took an impressive endo to the ground. As I was admiring Dennis’ grace, I realized I was in a tight situation. To huck the ledge was certain death as I would land on his bike. I was going to have to sacrifice myself for the sake of his bike and body. I stuck my wheel into the leaves off the side of the trail and pulled an Endo head tuck leg trap. What is a endo head tuck leg trap you ask? Well I made it up last night and it is when you do a half endo off to the side of the trail sideways and prop your right shoulder on the ground while kicking your left leg in the air to catch your Karate Monkey that is about to chop the helpless bike in half.

No harm no foul. I started having trouble with my light after that. It was slipping around again which is not good. I really need to address this lighting issue.

I took another semi-crash at the top of Sulphur Springs. I was really off my game at that point and just cruised back to the parking lot. It was great to get out.

Well if you are coming out on Friday or Sunday, I will see you then. Otherwise have a great Turkey Day and look for ride postings this weekend and next week.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just Riding Along

I don’t really have a lot of bike related topics going on right now. My fork from Walt is at the powder coater. I don’t really know how long the transition from powder to in my hands will take. I will hopefully know soon.

So with that in mind I thought I would share a couple stories about burped tubes and tires. Burping the tire for those of you who don’t know is when the tire comes loose off the rim of the wheel just enough for the tube to explode through the space between the tire and rim. Normally, it happens with a loud boom and the tube either explodes or gets tangled Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man style in the spokes of your wheel. If you haven’t had it happen, it is quite a philosophical experience.

I had a problem with burping tires right off my wheels with my old Gary Fisher 292. This bike is a 29’er and I think it had to do with the Bontrager tires I was running more than anything else. I am guessing here but I think I burped those wheel tire combinations about four or five times. Some of those experiences stick out in my mind.

One time (not at band camp) at Harbison State Park, I was rolling down my favorite short downhill when I hit a small jump at the end. I landed and immediately heard BOOM. I brought the bike to a stop without crashing. I got off the bike and my buddy Joe rolled up behind me looking for a wounded soldier. There was a four inch hole in my tube. It just burped and consequently exploded the tube.

Another time I was rolling down Big Rock in Dupont with my 292 when I hit a small off camber ledge. This is all on slick rock mind you. It is a small ledge but you have to make sure you land it right since it leans to the left. Well that day I hit it straight on and the loudest boom I had ever heard. Nobody was with me. There is something about going at a decent clip, getting some air, landing on rock and having your tire go from 38 PSI to 0 PSI in a nanosecond. I know it was probably a little longer than that but I am a computer geek so nanosecond is what it is.

What brought all of this up you ask? Well one day last week Rick got to experience his first philosophical experience. We were “just riding along” down a dirt road in “The Queen.” Rick was on his single speed which he doesn’t ride very often. So it was Jeff, Rick and I all rolling side by side chatting about whatever when it happened. Rick was about a foot to my left when I heard a loud sound. A silenced boom if you will then a bunch of rattling noise. I thought he had just fallen somehow. I stopped, looked back and his tire and tube were a tangled mess. I don’t know how he didn’t crash or cause one of us to crash. I hate to see that but it is good to know that other people have this problem sometimes.

Paris tonight if it is not raining.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ride Salvaging

Apparently PalmettoSolo put the curse on me Saturday night. I was gearing up to head to FATS on Sunday morning when my car wouldn’t start. DOH! So I did what any mountain biker would do in my situation. I begged my girlfriend to drop me off at some trail on her way to the gym.

I hate having to bail on rides and I think this was the first time this year I missed one. Not much I could do. If it would have been a trip to Pisgah, there would have been a tear in my beer for sure.

The day turned out pretty nice. I took a short ride at Harbison on the Drunken Monkey. I didn’t really start feeling good until the end of the ride. Oh well there are plenty of rides planned for this week.

Tomorrow night is another assault on Paris in the dark. Seems this is the place to be on Tuesday nights so don’t forget to ride your bike.

The Post-Turkey day ride is pulling out some heavy hitters. Woody said he might make an appearance and show us some of the new work that Trail Dynamics is doing. How cool is that? Maybe you would understand how cool it was if you knew that their group, were the one’s responsible for Airstrp, Mine Mountain and Jim Branch out at Dupont.

That’s it for a Monday morning.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Queen

Rick, Jeff and I all met up for a semi-chilly very windy spin through the woods in Clemson last night. It was one of those night that you question your sanity as you drive to the trailhead. The wind is blowing and it really feels cold when I stick my hand out the window while driving down the highway.

I was surprised to see Jeff at the trailhead getting ready when I arrived. I didn’t know he was going to show up. He was a little sore from some ground connections he made at Paris on Tuesday.

Rick made an appearance with his single speed. It was the first time I had seen him on the “one-gear” and he pushed it pretty hard. Its good to see he can ride something else besides a Turner. His claim to fame on his single speed is that the stem cost more than the entire bike itself. He got the steel bike from some sweat shop in Taiwan.

It was a freaky night out. The trails were wet but not awful. The wind made it really chilly in spots and then back by the lake it was warm. We hit some of the good single tack and then cruised back to the cars on some dirt road.

People are really lining up for the Post-Turkey day ride. It is going to be a great time. I have a feeling we will be conqueror’s of the Fawn Lake access for the day. There are a few people showing interest in hiking too which is nice. If you are coming out to hike, remember to bring some BRIGHT clothing . It is that season again.

Our Sunday (November 26th) ride is brewing nicely now too. We are going to hit up Heartbreak and Kitszuma for you ORAMM freaks out there. It will be another good time for sure.

The theme of this weekend is Football and bikes. Kristin riled me up a ticket to the USC (Cocks not Trojans) vs. Middle TN game. Thanks Kristin! Sometime in the future I am going to have to work on a "tailgaiting bike setup." Now that I have experience with a Bob trailer, so much seems possible.

So we got a bunch of mountain freaks headed down from NC to SC to ride some XC trails. Wow that was a lot of acronyms huh? I am sure some fast times will be had. My only saving grace is that most of the guys are camping Saturday night. So with any amount of luck I will scare them out of their tents when I show up at the trailhead on Sunday.

Have a great weekend and RIDE YOUR BIKE!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Customer Service

I over-analyze customer service. It is something I feel very strongly about. If I get good phone to phone, face to face or email to email service, I will be coming back to your company. What is a good example of customer service?

I ripped this picture from Walt's website.

WaltWorks is a great example. This guy builds bikes and forks out of his garage in Boulder Colorado. I recently contacted him about building me a new front end (fork) for my Drunken Monkey. He quickly and concisely answered all of my emails. Please note that I was a conscious consumer by reading thoroughly through his website before sending him an email. Not only did he do that but he also keeps an updated BLOG so you always know what the status of your hardware is.

The status of mine you ask?

Jonathan W (fork) 11/2/06 complete, to powder 11/17

He didn't spell my name right but I can deal with that.

My point is that I saw that he had completed construction of my fork and it is headed to get powder coated tomorrow! I was lucky too because he has now said that he will build no more forks until after his vacation in January. Great timing for me! Who knows, maybe I will even have this new fork for my birthday ride! Thank You Walt for providing great customer service. That is the type of business relationship I respect, maybe some day I will look for Walt to build me a bike.

For those of you in the Clemson area, we are riding at 6:00 tonight at Issaqueena. There has to be a better name for this place. That is just way to many syllables to say for a mountain biker to be hip. I think it will be known as “The Queen” from now on.

Another ride on Sunday looks like it is going to be a ton of fun. It is amazing how MTBR is working for us locally right now. Jeremy starts off by saying that he wants to do a ride this weekend. He was thinking Virginia, now we are headed to Clak Hill South Carolina to hit FATS, Turkey and Wine (yes these are trails and not what we are going to be during Thanksgiving) on Sunday. It even looks like they are going to camp out on Saturday night. I’ll make it for the ride but camping is out for me. Should be a fantastic time out in the Western part of our state, so come out and ride your bike!

Late Edit:

Walt's response to this post:

Dude, sorry about misspelling your name...
Thanks for the kind words!

I don't care how he spells my name in this instance. I care about riding an awesome fork on a great bike in the woods. Like I said. He responds quicky to mail.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Paris at Night

The Eifel Tower is just so beautiful all lit up. . .

I couldn’t resist. I wasn’t really in Paris France last night. However, if you ride a mountain bike in Greenville and you weren’t at Paris Mountain last night, you were definitely out of the norm. When we got back to the parking lot around 8:00 last night, every single parking spot was filled up. I would have never thought it would be that busy.

Rick, Lou, Jeff and I rode all the trails last night. We left from the bottom of the mountain and slowly worked our way to the top parking lot. There were some new introductions so chatting was at a high. We took the fire tower loop at the top. I tried to keep the pace slow in the beginning because I know what the end entails. Jeff was right on my back wheel during the climb. He was talking about how much the park had changed since he had last been there. The dirt road that we were climbing used to be the only “trail” open to bikes. Now there is approximately 18 miles of trail with six miles being added.

We quickly arrived at the top of the fire tower trail. The next section of fire tower is littered with rocks. It has one steep climb and then a semi-steep but fast downhill.

I was feeling really good on the trail considering I finally had my lighting system working to my advantage. It took a little Mcguyvering to get my bar mount to work properly this year since I am mounting it to curved riser bars. The ultimate solution seems to be using pieces of old tubes to help secure it. It also helped that everyone that I was with last night had lower wattages than me so I didn’t get any shadowing effects from the lights behind me.

After the grueling uphill on fire tower, we start cruising downhill. This is a section of trail that has bitten me a couple times before. So I was trying to stay in chaotic control when my back wheel caught a root and my seat slammed me in the butt. My left foot immediately came unclipped and started flailing around my left ear. I managed to keep my balance and hold onto the trial with only one foot clipped in. I made it about fifteen feet to a flat spot, clipped my left foot back in and kept cruising. It was a “sweaty” moment.

We cruised down the rest of fire tower and then made a left headed down toward the lake. Cruised the lake trail and made the climb out. I had Jeff tailing me pretty good coming out again so we pushed it hard and passed some folks on the way back up.

We made a left down Brissy Ridge, my favorite downhill. I found myself at the bottom waiting to see when the next light was coming. Soon we were all there and we took the road back to the top of the mountain. Close to the top, I asked who was down with going down the top of Sulphur Springs. Rick the only person there with six inches of travel front and back started whimpering. Luckily Lou (who I had never met before) chimed in that he would like to conquer that section. That was all I needed to hear.

The top of Sulphur Springs is very Pisgahesque. It is very steep, rocky and rooty. I exclaimed that I hadn’t taken the rigid fork down it yet. So why not do it the first time at night? It was great fun. Again I found myself at the bottom watching the lights pick there way through the trees. From here it was an easy cruise back to the car. It is also my favorite section of trail. It is super fast and twisty with a couple drops and some great jumps mixed in. Jeff was right on my wheel the entire time and he saw me “really feeling it” when I crossed the log bridge at the end. Another great night of mountain biking.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Paris or Bust!

This is the third week for the Tuesday night Paris Mountain ride. I will make it tonight. I got my light charging and I am ready to go. Should be a good group out there since it is our only local night ride of the week besides Fridays but Friday doesn’t count in my book.

So we are riding tonight. I know there is a group that gets going around 6:15 from the first lot. We normally park at the first lot on the left side and get there around 5:30. We will try to come back to the lot to meet the other riders. More riders is always better. Well until I start seeing wicked shadows from my light being overpowered. I recently emailed Dave Harris about the shadowing effect. This guy knows a lot about lights. When I get some extra cash flow, I will be working on a new lighting system for sure. At the very least, I will be adding to my current system. Fully Rigid without proper light is a recipe for disaster.

What happens when two campers decide to watch a football game on Saturday when it is nice outside? This is what happens:

No Kristin’s were harmed in this experiment. . .

Good Times!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Trail Sightings

Joe, Russell and I all gathered for a quick spin around Manchester on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day and luckily the temps had fallen since Saturday.

Russell had been out doing double operative secret training of course. So after waiting for him to show back up to the trailhead we all took off. I was feeling pretty sluggish but still had a great ride. Manchester is mostly really tight single track with some sections of the Palmetto trail thrown in for some altitude change.

I have to note here that these guys are really cool about trail maintenance. Not only were some new sections being built but half of the trails had been blown off. This was quite the change for me. I am not used to seeing the trails. Great work out there!

I hadn’t ridden with my wide riser bars out there yet and I learned a pretty good lesson while trying to snake through some trees. That lesson is? My bars are wide. I had a couple close calls and then my right grip caught a tree just good enough to kick my front wheel around and POOF I was eating dirt. Nothing bad, just a fast fall and a “what the, friggin tree, what’s that tree doing there anyway…”

All in all it was a great day even though Russ and Joe were up ahead playing without me all day. It was good to get out and spin the legs on some cross country trails. I hadn’t done that in awhile.

We had another soul with us for a short while, McPiv off of the MTBR forums. I am not quite sure how we lost you friend but maybe next time. He said he knew his way around the trails so I trust that was true since his car was gone once we got back.

Thanks to Russ for the special delivery of the Drunken Monkey!

If you haven't heard the SWANK pictures are up and rocking. Thanks to Kristin for putting some hours in and getting them posted. One of my favorites from the SWANK.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It is Zen Biking After All. . .

I missed a post this week due to being off on Monday so I thought I would leave you all with some Zen thoughts for the weekend.

This is my interpretation of Chuang Tsu: Inner Chapters, page 118:

This was the true rider of old. He rode straight and concise and did not waver. He was a humble rider but was not servile. He was independent but not stubborn, open to all single track, yet boasted about none. He smiled as if pleased, and responded to the trail naturally. His radiance came from his inner light. He remained centered even in the company of other riders. He was broadminded as if he road all trails, high-minded as if beyond influence, inward-minded as if he would like to withdraw from the trail, and absentminded as if unaware of where he is going to ride. To take biking as the wings of life is to give people something to follow. To take riding as a requirement of the times is to do things that have to be done. To consider riding as a guide for action is to be with others on the path upward. He rode effortlessly, yet people thought that he was trying very hard.
Picture was taken by Mike at Dupont. Picture ripped from Eric.


Last night I happened to meet up with Eric (he has some pics up from last night), Mike and Wode out at Dupont. We rocked the Corn Mill Shoals area of the park. This was our route:

Corn Mill Shoals ---> Little River ---> Backside Cedar Rock ---> Big Rock ---> Corn Mill Shoals ---> Burnt Mountain ---> Corn Mill Shoals ---> Longside ---> Twixt ---> Rock Quarry Road ---> ???? Ridge ---> Milicai ---> Wilikie

Gosh that is a lot of trails in two hours. I know I got some of the names wrong on the last few and I don’t feel like looking them up so there you go.

Eric really pushed me to try harder than I normally would on the Cedar Rock climb. Neither of us made it all the way to the top. We had to push some. That sucker is steep in spots though. It will make your heart rate shoot through the roof.

As we came to the top of Cedar the sun was set and her ray’s were still setting the night a glow. It was a pretty surreal scene. We started cruising down Big Rock and WTF my lights went out. Holy crap! I messed around with them for a minute and boom we have light again. SWEET! At this point, I was not really feeling like bombing the downhill with malfunctioning lights so Mike and Eric took off.

Next up was the climb up Burnt Mountain. This trail is by far one of the best in Dupont. It starts with some fast rolling single track; then it quickly turns into a slightly technical hellishly steep climb to eventually level off. Eric was following me and I had it in my mind that if we could just power through the first steep section it would all be gravy after that. I had a really nice line kicking up the steep section and we got to the last steep rise. I told Eric “Just one more kicker and we are done.” We pushed it hard and then cruised to the top.

Again Mike and Eric led the way on the slightly insane (at night) downhill. Apparently Wode ate some dirt on the way down but he said it was tasty.

Next up was some single track taking us to the other side of Cascade Lake road. Again Eric and I killed it on the uphill and popped out on the road before I even knew it was coming up. We had lost Wode and Mike so I went back to find them. In our excitement Eric and I made one turn that they didn’t see. Sorry guys! They quickly figured it out.

Onto the top of the Rock Quarry, the stars were out and we could clearly see the Milky Way showing off her glory. I know my way around in this area but I don’t have all the trail names memorized and I can’t picture every trailhead in my mind like I can in the rest of the park. So after a fun technical downhill that apparently threw Mike into some bushes while Eric and I rocked out the fully ridges beautifully we took a wrong turn. All it did was add an extra couple miles though. Turn around and rock it back to the car. What a great night!

The SWANK results came out today. I will paste what was in the email:

Greetings all,
The 2006 Swank 65 proved to be one of the hardest yet, with Farlow Gap included for only the third time in eight years. Racers were crippled by the first loop and Farlow didn't even make an appearance until the third. This route in Pisgah Forest allowed for one of the most remote back country mountain bike races in the area! Over 90 people registered, 79 raced and only 61 finished! With a course distance of actually 46 miles! Ha Ha! After six hours of racing, racers who had not yet reached the entrance of Cove Creek Campground were directed back into the campground for an alternate finish. Any racer past the campground entrance went for the full 46 mile finish. The times recorded are only those for the racers who finished the full 46 mile race. Other racers are listed in the order in which they finished after the true finishers. Race results are attached in a word doc.

Kristin Elliott's pictures from the race will be available beginning Saturday, November 11, 2006 at the following web address
Swanks to everyone that came out to the 8th Annual Swank 65!

So my results you ask?

31 Jonathon LaRoy 6:43:30

Not bad for my first SS race huh? That ranks pretty high on my list of results. I am happy. I think I might have even done a little better than 31st. I think some people might have not told the timer at the end that they came up the road instead of officially finishing. If this is true you should email Todd and let him know. Just speculation really and it doesn’t really matter because I am pleased.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Racing or Riding?

I get down on myself sometimes after races because I don’t always feel that I left it all out there. Sometimes after I get going in a race I don’t feel as though I have the drive I need to do well. The SWANK was a perfect example. About halfway through the race, people would pass me and I had no desire to worry about them. Sure I am out there pushing it hard but I would really like to try and stay more focused during the race. I think this has to do with the fact that I am finally moving from “survival mode” to actually being in good enough shape to compete. This is something I plan to work on mentally with myself for next season. I need to dig in and make sure that when I cross the finish line there aren’t any regrets.

Some local Clemson groups and myself have teamed up to make a really exciting day for hikers and bikers alike. It is the Post Turkey day ride. We should get a really great crowd out for this one. Come one come all.

Walt has cashed my check. I hope that means that he us busily working in his garage for my new front end on the Drunken Monkey. Ignore all that pretty snow falling in Boulder Walt and build my fork!

I got my new saddles in the other day too! I plan on trying one out tonight even though it is the same saddle I had before. If a saddle works, I am not going to fix it. The only reason I am putting a new one on is because my old one’s love groove pooches out now. I think it was about to go to the wayside so it is indeed time for a new one. What saddle do I ride? WTB Laser V. Makes bottoms happy.

Kristin is feverishly working to get some SWANK pictures posted. Will she get all the pictures edited and posted before Todd can get the results out? We will see. Since I have the powers at be, I convinced the race photographer to send me one picture as a preview. Am I lucky or what?

Here is Eric and I after the race. He is still elated from throwing the hammer down and sliding by me like I was sitting still in the last 2 miles.

This picture was taken by Kristin. She made us make up so we could “be friends again.” ~Doc Holliday “Tombstone.”

A ride is brewing out at Manchester this Sunday. We are meeting at 12:00 in the parking lot if you would like to come out and play.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Paris Mountain

Kristin and I took our day off and headed to Paris Mountain to enjoy the peak leaf season right here in our own town of Greenville South Carolina.

Here Kristin is trying her best to hide and scare me.

I wasn't scared of a little tree monster.

Here I am doing my best to hide in the woods and scare her. . .

This was one of my favorite trees that I saw.

This is that fun game we all like to play called "Wheeeeeeeeeeerrrreeee's Johhhhhhnnnnnnyyyyyy."

Did you find me?

We hiked all the way to the lake in the back of the park. We saw some good reflections. . .

More reflections. . .

Finally we have me, happy to be in the woods with a lovely photographer.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Gettin' SWANK'ed

Pre-Race stuff:

Saturday I was mulling over my bike replacing the rear brake pads when I happened to notice that two of my spokes were severely bent on the back wheel. Oooops, that stick I must have hit on my last night ride really left a mark. Since I lack the knowledge and hardware for a proper true, I hurried the wheel over to a local shop and demanded (asked nicely) the wrench to fix er’ up for me.

He got it done in a timely manner and I promptly delivered a six pack of Thomas Creek Red Ale. I replaced the pads in the rear and gave the bike a test ride around the neighborhood. The rear brakes were squeaking badly but other than that things were A OK.

I noticed that my downstairs neighbors in my quadplex were having a party on Saturday night. Oh boy! I slept pretty well until I realized that Snoop Dogg must have been attending. I woke up at 2:26 and I heard the party still jumping. I mean it sounded like they had a Six Ring Circus going on downstairs. Luckily they didn’t keep me awake for too long and I was able to get back to sleep.

Race Morning:

Kristin and I packed up the car with our camping and race supplies and headed out. The sun was already out and shining. The day was cool and crisp but not as cold as it had been the last few days.

The drive up was un-eventful until we pulled onto highway 280 and I started seeing other racers headed toward the venue. I pulled up next to Ian and noticed that he had a geared bike with him. I had ridden with him before but it was on a single. He was clearly excited to be headed to the race.

We crossed the not so treacherous creek in my Escape and we were there. Got things set up and started thinking about how many layers to put on for the start. I quickly realized it was a LeMan’s start which meant we would be running. That meant I would be plenty warm and no layers were needed. I think I was the only one that didn’t have armdoms or some sort of alternate layer on. Dicky exclaimed that I was crazy as he ran around like a chicken trying to simulate the wind chill he would soon be experiencing on his bike.

The Race:

After excitedly chatting, we were off running. We ran along the edge of the woods then back along the trail that we would eventually end on and then we were back to our bikes. This was surely the most dangerous part of the race. The trail had roots and rocks strewn under leaves. I was just waiting for someone to fall over and scream “MY ANKLE!”

Safely on the bike and we were off. Down the chilly rock road away from camp and a right turn would take us toward the first climb of the day.

I came off the run pretty good and I knew there were some single speeds in front of me but I wasn’t really sure if any were behind me. Since this was my first Fully Rigid Single Speed race I wanted to know if I was going to be last out of those folks even though we were all lumped into the same category (Open Men.) It didn’t matter, it was just time to ride hard.

On the first climb, my legs felt a little sluggish but we were at Gloucester Gap quickly. We continued straight for a second and then a right turn for the first single track climb of the day. This took me to an area of Pisgah that I have never explored. So I was interested to know what was what.

The first single track climb was a good one and it had some awesome views that I realized I should not be looking at. The first downhill was fast and smooth. There was some loose gravel under leaves that tried to wash me out on some of the corners but no big deal. There was a huge dip at the end of this first downhill and then we were out onto a rock road. As we were headed up the rock road, a guy passed me and said I was “brave for riding a one-gear” in the race. I don’t think “brave” was the word.

The next single track climb was a killer. It was rocky and just steep enough to piss you off. I am no good at ascending rocky terrain. I was having a time for sure. Then the downhill came up. It was leafy and there were no lines to be seen anywhere. This was one of those trails in Pisgah that used to be a road a very long time ago. Therefore, there was enough room for three bikers shoulder to shoulder but not a line in sight. It was a crap shoot. You just point your bike downhill grab the handlebars and try to stay as loose as possible. I don’t believe physics has enough laws to define the way my bike was moving. Bike is pointed forward; OHHH CRAP bike is pointed sideways, muscle bike back downhill and repeat. Note: (This all was happening in about every 1/8 of a second in my mind.)

After my arms were swollen like Popeye, we were back out to Gloucester Gap and to checkpoint one. I sped past the checkpoint not wanting to stop. From here on out I knew what the course had in store for me.

I started the climb up to Butter Gap and not too far from Checkpoint one I saw Kristin standing there taking pictures. I tried to look like I hadn’t been thrown around in a pinball machine and then I realized that I was bleeding everywhere. The billions of thorns all over the trails had cut me up as though I was in a cat fight. No biggie, just a flesh wound. Maybe the other riders weren’t wearing layers for warmth?

Once I made it to the top of Butter, I remembered my vow to myself. I let some air out of my tires in the hope that this would ease the trail a little. Going down butter is always a blast and it didn’t let me down.

Next up was the climb up Longbranch. I never had climbed that trail it wasn’t too bad. I had to walk some but not a lot.

Back to Gloucester gap and this time I stopped at checkpoint 2. I ate eight quarter slices of oranges and thought about how that could be the start of a math problem, that I probably couldn’t solve. I filled my pack with some grape gatoraide and headed up the rock road to Farlow. This road was painful. I had to walk some of the steeper pitches. As I walked I would look out to my right and see Looking Glass Rock. It looked so far away. I started thinking about the fact that the end of the race would take me a short hike’s distance from this rock and it made me tired. I thought that maybe since I was walking already that I might have to walk some going to the top of Cove Creek. I sure hoped not.

I eventually made it to the top of Farlow. Farlow is insane! It hasn’t gotten any easier since the spring. I had to walk a bunch and yes I fell once walking. It was my only fall of the day. The rocks are so big that the leaves form little pillows until you realize that there are more rocks underneath. After getting down the first superbly technical section I heard “Extreme Tomato!” I looked up and Ian was in front of me. He had just fixed a flat. We chatted for a sec about how badly we wanted beer and then we took to walking up the only “up” on Farlow.

Safely off of Farlow and down onto the downhill section of Daniel Ridge. I walked the steps and cruised down Daniel. Cross the tree bridge and off to the last section of the race.

Cruising down Davidson River trail was fun. I thought my backend was getting a little squirrelly and then I realized it was only in my mind. Out onto 475 and to the last checkpoint. I ate some more oranges and filled with a little water. I started to take off and I heard one of the checkpoint volunteers say “I am going to toot this for good luck.” I started pedaling faster not knowing what he was talking about and then I heard the sound of air being blown through a straw and a little “hooooot” at the end. I looked back to see that he was blowing through a noise making horn. Sheeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww.

The climb up to Cove Creek wasn’t bad and I was in the saddle for the most part. This was the climb I was scared about walking earlier. I now realized how much steeper the pitch is up to Farlow that had me walking earlier.

Onto Cove Creek and I knew that all I had to do was survive this “paint shaker” downhill and I could have a beer and relax. I got down to the second stream crossing and I heard “TOMATO!” It was Eric. I thought he was in front of me the entire time. As he ran up next to me, he exclaimed that he felt bad. He did a cyclocross mount and took off. He sure as hell didn’t look like he felt bad. He looked like he was racing for first place. I wasn’t in second place now was I?

I rode the rest of Cove Creek and made it across the finish line right behind Eric. He told me his only goal was to beat me and that he was glad I didn’t make chase when he passed me. I was glad to help him reach a goal.

Holy heck that was pretty tough. It was a good race course and I didn’t have any mechanicals. I have no idea what place I crossed the line in and I don’t even know what my time was.

I am not worn down from the race and I still want to ride my bike.

If you rode this race and didn’t say “thank you” to a volunteer, shame on you. GIVE MORE LOVE TO VOLUNTEERS! You guys and gals rock! Even the horn tooter rocks but he might want to get a cowbell next time.

Pictures and other fun stuff will come soon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Do You See a Trail?

Last night BrouSSard, Andrew, Rick and myself all gathered for a night ride at Dupont State Forest.

We did what I call “the normal route” leaving from the Fawn Lake access. It is basically the best single track route you can do in that area without getting your feet wet. If I would have told the fellas that we were crossing the river last night, they would have come at my throat with their rotors in hand.

Their were some unusual sensations that occurred on the trail last night. Everything from leaf camouflaged rocks to hidden mud puddle pits of death. The beginning of our ride took us into a slightly more remote area than some see in Dupont. The ground was soft and mushy under our tires even though the leaves made dry crinkly sounds.

I was leading on one section of single track when all of the sudden my bike was pitched sideways and I heard “scccchhhhluccck ggggluuccck.” That is the sound your bike makes when you have no forewarning of the eminent mud puddle of doom. Luckily both times we ventured through this beast, I carried plenty of speed to just power through it. The mud pits were perfectly hidden by the newly fallen leaves as though Dr. Evil had been out there scoping out our demise.

The other unusual sensation was flying off the trail at high speeds not having any clue where the trail went. I have ridden these trails many, many times before and I was concentrating with all of my might to understand where the trail might lead next. It would be a good time to get very lost and find yourself in a cold dark situation quickly.

It was a fantastic night in the woods! I can’t wait to do it again.

If you haven’t heard by now, maybe you are just waking up from your drunken Halloween stupor but Paris is open on Tuesday nights. We will be out there rocking if anyone wants to show.

I got some left over paint from some Halloween costumes so I might be headed home to put my war face on for Sunday. The Race report will be written sometime Monday afternoon as Kristin and I will be braving the cold Sunday night.

Have a great weekend!
"What I'm saying is you guys have to start over there and and I start here. Its called a handicap."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Interviewed Tomato

Recently Ned Overend contacted me for an interview:

Ned: “Tomato, Do you know who I am?”
Tomato: “Yes, you are one of the greatest mountain bikers.”

Ned: “Let me rephrase, Do you know who I am?”
Tomato: “Oh yes, You are JPelton’s hero and the greatest Mountain Biker ever.”

Ned: “Excellent now let’s get onto the questions. How many seasons have you raced
Endurance events?”
Tomato: “I raced the ORAMM in 2005 but this is my first real season.”

Ned: “What prompted you to start racing Endurance events?”
Tomato: “ Pain, I need more pain in my life.”

Ned: “How do you feel your season has gone?”
Tomato: “Ok, I shaved 45 minutes off my ORAMM time. However I had my first DNF at the SM-75.”

Ned: “I thought the Shenandoah was 100 miles?”
Tomato: “It is, I just call it that for motivation.”

Ned: “I heard you have a race coming up. Are you prepared?”
Tomato: “I am feeling strong Ned. I think I will put it all out there for this one.”

Ned: “You recently changed from riding a FS bike to a rigid single speed. Can you tell me why you made this change and are you scared?”
Tomato: “Hell no I am not scared what is wrong with you Ned. I switched bikes because I am tired of breaking expensive parts every day of my life.”

Ned: “So do you intend to smash the competition into Tomato Juice this Sunday?”
Tomato: “I intend to feel like Tomato Juice after the race. If that involves beating some of the competition, so be it.”

Ned: “I recently saw on this thread where you were smack talking with Team Dicky. What’s all that about.”
Tomato: “He calls himself ‘The Champ.’ He needs a good butt whipping.”

Ned: “Why Tomato?”
Tomato: “Do you know what a Tomato says when he passes you Ned?”
Ned: “No, what?”
Tomato: “Ketchup!”

He was in a rush so the interview was short. I however do appreciate him coming out.

If you haven’t heard by now we have a night ride kicking tonight. Lots of single speeds and there might be a beer or two. Come out!

Disclaimer: Ned was not really the interviewer. It was my friend “Fried Green Tomato.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


When you are riding a bicycle with no suspension this T.I. (Trail Intimacy) is what you get. You quickly know where every root and rock is on the trail. Unless the Swankin’ Leaves are there to hide them.

An appreciation for smooth singletrack is also gained. While riding the Lake Loop at Issaqueena the other night, I realized that some of the sections are as smooth as Fabio selling imitation butter products.

This thread has been hijacked from informing about the SWANK to informing others of what gears the single speeder’s are running. Those crazy SS’er’s always seem to do that. Even "The Champ" chimed in with his gearing from the past year. I thought about running a bigger gear for the race until I realized that this was very stupid. I have never spun out on any of the climbs in Pisgah with the gear I am on now, so why change it? Since most of the downhills are steep in Pisgah, there really is no worry about spinning out on them either.

A few of us southern folk are headed to NC for some night riding tomorrow if you would like to join us just come out.