Monday, April 28, 2008

WorkDay Pictures

Smells Like PMBAR

My first day back on the bike after Cohutta was this past Friday. D-Kuntz, ZB and I rode my local haunt to, from and at Paris. After ejecting myself from the bike in the first 200 yards on the trail I took it easy and really suffered from lack of fitness. It was a good 27 miles to start out a weekend.

Saturday involved a ton of shoving, pushing, lifting, wrestling, hernia-ting rocks. Zach and I drove up from Travlers Rest to meet a small but efficient work crew. We worked on “the DROP section” of Burnt Mountain. This is probably the most prized/well known downhill in all of Dupont. It is a pretty hairy section of trail that previously had three decent sized drops in succession. The Appalachian Rock Armoring technique that I have been involved with so frequently as of late was brought to use. We moved some extremely large rocks into place and the work looks beautiful. When this trail opens back up, you are going to want to walk this technical section and have a “looksie” before you ride it.

Sunday rolled around and Kristin wanted to take her single speed out for its first spin. We rounded up the dogs and took the following route for Kristin’s first ride in Dupont.

From Fawn Lake, Fawn Lake Trail (clockwise) -> Airstrip -> Laurel Ridge -> Shoals -> Corn Mill Shoals (river ford) -> looked at the new work on Burnt Mountain -> back across the river on Corn Mill Shoals -> Shoals -> Laurel Ridge -> Mine Mountain

I just had to “break the rules” and ride the work we had done on Burnt. So we hiked up and Kristin snapped my photo. This trail is going to have quite the pucker factor when it is complete. Nice work everyone!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paris Mountain Friends and Family Day

Kristin, J, Steve,
and Brad have been instrumental in helping pull this day together in a short amount of time. There will be all kinds of fun. Thanks to everyone for helping out. Thanks to SORBA main providing the kids trailer, I will not be there as I will be working on Burnt Mountain in Dupont. We have to spread the love you know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rainbow Falls

The family went for a quick four mile hike yesterday. It felt good to shake out the legs but I definitely feel some sore spots from Saturday.

You can see me in the left hand side of the falls for scale.

We were headed to check out the newly fashioned Rainbow Falls trail at Jones Gap. The volunteers and contractors did an excellent job with this trail. It is quite steep and huff puffing on the way up but what a sweet reward. This is the best falls I have seen in the park. Look out for this trail to be super busy on the summer weekends as it is highly accessible from the main lot.

An interesting note, Shade was running back and forth between Kristin and I and somehow came out of the woods with what is in the last picture. I heard Kristin yell “Shade has a stick for you” when I turned around he dropped it about four feet from me and I was slightly shocked at first. We never saw the rest of the carcass.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Elusive 100 – Cohutta 2008

For those of you who have busy lives and would like to skip all the gibberish, 9:45 (something close to that anyway) was my time for the 100. I felt pretty good the entire time and never hit the dirt.


In all actuality, Palmetto Solo’s late arrival at my house caused me to be more prepared for a race than I ever had been before. Kristin, Toby, Shade, Buddy and I all got to the whitewater center around 8:15pm for registration. I paid close attention to the cheat sheet BrouSSard had given me. It was an elevation profile of the 100 with the aid stations marked on it. I packed my three sag stops and realized I had forgotten my extra tube I was going to leave at the fourth aid station. I didn’t make the effort to walk back to the car (about 200 yards) for the tube, I was confident that there would be no flats for me.

Back at the cabin, I stared at the back wheel that was already on the bike and almost said the heck with setting up my new wheel. Toby had brought the newly re-built Bontrager Race Light wheel from the shop and I needed to throw my old Exiwolf on tubeless. After a little help from Cook during the pumping process and a lot of laughing we got the tire mounted on and I was good to go. I announced to Cissy that I was so confident in my set up that I wasn’t even going to test ride it and just threw the bike back on top of my car.

Lying in bed that evening, I didn’t fall asleep until the rain came pouring down.


After Bruce let the entire Tennessee valley know who the big names were at the race we were off. A couple friends of mine had let me know that the start would be crucial. Normally in an endurance event of this magnitude I would let everyone run away and then try and catch up later after I had warmed up. Not today, I wasn’t in the red but I was damn close as I tried my best to pace line and draft off of some gearies. As we made the turn onto the forest service road I saw Luis cutting some folks off as he vied for a stronger position into the single track. I tried my best to do the same and ended up one person back from him on the dirt.

This was my first time being in a large group of skilled riders during an event of this caliber and it was awesome. I was in the perfect spot. The single track flowed so perfectly through the trees. Just barely tight enough for me not to spin the 34X22 out and nothing ever steep enough to force me off the bike. I kept pace line rolling until it got flat enough for a few to pull away. I let one person around and then had nobody behind me so I slowed and brought my heart rate way back down.

Out of the twisty single track, we were dropped down by the river onto a flat section of trail. Three or four geared riders passed me here as I was spun out. We came around one corner and there were roots everywhere. I was not prepared and nailed the roots with both wheels. I thanked my lucky stars for having the tubeless set up and hammered on.

Right before a gnarly creek crossing, I saw a photographer taking pictures and heard “on your left.” I looked up and thought “Who the hell is going to pass me in this creek.” Then heard “heads up, heads up” as the guy realized this was not the best spot to pass. There was a large bridge and I heard “slippery bridge” being called out as I spied Danielle sitting in a chair wincing in pain from an apparent fall on the bridge. My heart went out to her as nobody wants to be taken out like that. After I rounded the bridge, I saw multiple riders pulling tubes and changing flats.

I knew I was getting close to the end of the first section of single track when a huge pace line of 20 or so riders started to catch me. I put the hammer down one more time to keep from getting passed and before I knew it I was at aid station one. A quick bottle fill and I was off.

This was to start 70 or so miles of gravel. In true Zen fashion I didn’t think about it. I donned my sun glasses that I had specifically bought for the gravel and rode. Eventually Danielle caught back up to me. Casually I asked her if she was the one who had fallen on the bridge, she said “yes” and I asked her if she was alright, she said “no.”

I rolled along with multiple people as we yo-yo’d down the gravel. I talked with another fellow riding a Karate Monkey from Harrisonburg for quite a bit. Eventually I saw Stephen come along, he was pacing behind Danielle and another girl so I hopped on and we chatted for a bit. Stephen informed me that he was trying his best to stay between 10 and 11 mph. I asked how he was doing and he said “10.8”. I was surprised and secretly happy as I had internalized a sub 10 hour goal. We were headed from aid station two to three and I knew a long climb was in store.

I felt good all the way to aid station three. I grabbed a peanut butter honey sandwich and ate it as I walked the bike up the last steep pitch from the aid station. Up to this point, fifty something miles into the race, I hadn’t had any problems. My nutrition was spot on I hadn’t let my heart get out of control, I knew I was ready.

I started pushing it harder and harder up the climbs. The flat spots would cause me some pain from spinning so much but then the climbs were like magic. Every now and then I would walk but only briefly as to shake out the legs. This is a spot in the race where I thought about Kristin and my life and how incredibly lucky I am to be in a position where I could ride my bike and be happy. I thought about Harvey and how badly he would have wanted to do the race. All these things provided me extra strength and well being.

When I made it to aid station five, I saw Luis again. He said Rich (on his ultimate bad idea mission of riding fixed) had just left. Before this sentence could come out of Luis’ mouth my chain had been lubed, cleaned and I had already filled my gel flask from my zip lock drop bag. The volunteers in this race were OUTSTANDING. You would have thought every single racer that came through was royalty. I kept waiting for the red carpet to be rolled out as I headed back onto the course.

I took off ahead of Luis after I had upset him by commenting “the beer is getting closer.” There was another long flat section and then I knew a climb was coming up because everyone was talking (fearing) about it.

This was prime time for me, miles 70 – 90. I was hitting it up all the climbs and not having any problems sitting in the saddle grinding. I probably passed somewhere between 20 and 30 people during these miles. There were a lot of hurt faces. In the middle of one climb I saw Rich looking defeated. I spoke of the space time continuum trick Eric likes to use and carried on.

Those previous miles were too good to me. When I hit the last section of single track I hit the wall hard. I was still able to pedal but cramps and a weaning ability to turn over the cranks came crumbling on top of me. I knew I was getting close but I suffered. I was able to maintain composure and keep a straight line through the downhills. Any potential climb that might cause me to cramp, I walked. About 10 of those previous 20 I had passed, passed me back.

After what seemed like an eternity, I was dropped out onto the one mile flat that would take me to the finish line. I slowly spun my way down along the river, smiling from ear to ear knowing that my three year long dream of riding 100 miles on my mountain bike was coming to a close. The Undead Drunken Monkey and I shined duly with mud caked on every bit of us as we crossed the line.

Awesome organization from every aspect at this race; I would recommend it highly to anyone. Our cabin rocked it out. We had two single speed finishers in the 100, a second place for Toby in the SS 65. A second place in the women’s 65. We also had two finishers in the 35.

Did I mention that Kristin is now a fully rigid SS 29’er? Yah, she is so hip to the game.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Race to The River 2008

Saturday started out with an early trip to Harrell’s Bicycle World. I busted up the rear wheel on the UDM this past Wednesday and was looking for some solution to the creaking bottom bracket I was experiencing.

Luckily I had brought a spare rear wheel as my tubeless rim was shot. Hopefully it will be re-built in time for the Cohutta as I was planning on rolling tubeless.

After that, we took a trip over to Green’s for some liquid anti-inflammatory in the form of Foothill’s Seeing Double IPA.

Off to the races, I was told there was no expert class until I explained that Harrell’s would be bringing a load of experts. What no experts from Cycle Center? Hmmmmm. . .

Joe and I rolled around for a quick warm-up and then headed to the line to see if we could kick this thing off a little early as the weather was quickly rearing its ugly head in the form of wind and small drops of water. This worried Joe as the tire he had on the back wheel looked like a 26” inner tube wrapped with a “for her pleasure” Trojan. Just as Rebecca was going to get us started Joe said “I’ll be right back.”

After a minute, I went down to check on his status and rile him up a little. It looked like he had his NASCAR pit crew out there as he swapped both his wheels so he had a little more “conforming” tire. I just had to laugh when we lined up as one fellow Steven had brought his Independent Fab Cross bike with him. It made me cringe thinking about rocking that bike out at Harbison.

Finally we were off in a semi-organized fashion with an “ok. . . go” as the start. I jumped in fifth position and already knew I was in over my head but just ran with it. After the first five turns, I had let a small gap bridge between me and the rider up ahead. I heard Damon call out that I needed to hustle up and close the gap. I turned the cranks over a little harder but when I came up to a swampy section there was a short cut I didn’t see and most of the crew including Damon, Toby and Joe went around me. It was better off as I was putting out too much effort at that point.

The only person left behind me was Steven on his cross bike. Through the harder section on Stewardship I could see him looming behind me and I knew I would be caught on the 3 mile flat section. Sure enough after a mile he was around me and I was hoping to catch back up on Spider Woman.

My legs felt good but not fresh as I still had a ton of off-road miles looming in them since the past Sunday. I knew that would ultimately benefit me for next weekend and I didn’t worry as I hoped my legs would feel better the warmer they got.

Into Spiderwoman, I saw the boys along with IF Steven as I was headed up the creek and they were headed down. I was still in range with 16 or so miles left in the race so I had some hope.

Once I made it to the rock garden, I tried my best to bang my way over the rocks but after the first two turns I plowed into a rock that almost caused me to meet the ground so I just got off and mall walked as fast as my heart would let me. I once again saw Steve up ahead of me. This would be the last time I would see anyone.

Out of Spiderwoman and onto Midlands Mountain trail; I always forget how rooty the downhill is in this direction as the 18 mph descent shook me too the core and I prayed that I didn’t pinch flat as I had tubes in.

Up the steep climb on Midlands and I realized the map that was put online was wrong. We were bypassing the Bluffs, one of my favorite short sections at Harbison. It was all good though as riding that section in the direction we were headed would have been a hike a bike for me.

Onto Firebreak and Crooked Pine I noticed how green everything was. Springtime had already fallen on Columbia and it made me smile knowing everything in the mountains will be green soon. I love springtime green’s as they are so vibrant.

Through one of the fast sections I went to spin as fast as I could and dropped the chain, SHIT, I had forgotten to double check the tension after leaving the shop. The chain formed two little loops as I told myself to breath and not get frustrated while I fondled the chain like two teenagers in the back of a car. I lost about 45 – 60 seconds in the ordeal but made sure to put it back on right as to avoid another petting session.

As I rounded by the start/finish, done with my first lap, I chucked my camel bak as my back was hurting and I didn’t care if I had to hike out with a flat. I still had my gel flask in my pocket and that was all I needed along with the bottles in my cages.

Coming into the spider woman the second time I really started to feel good. I was powering up the climbs instead of struggling to the top. The 34X19 that I had on was the hardest gear ratio I had ever ran at Harbison but it felt good.

When I hit the climb up Midlands the rain came down and it felt good. It motivated me to keep on the cranks until the finish. I never saw Steven or anyone else for that matter but that was ok. I finished last but not too far behind and I felt great. The second lap was awesome and oh how I miss the twisty turns and quick ups and downs out at Harbison. It is a great place to train and ride.

On another note, Spiderwoman is still awesome but sad at the same time. I imagine that at least 70 percent of the trail needs to be re-routed as most of the downs have awful stutter bumps and the erosion on the climbs is rampant.

I had a great time racing behind my boys. Thanks to everyone who volunteered and all the Harrell’s riders for actually making a class.

Time to rest.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Are You Ready?

Wednesday’s ride put me in the hurt cave pretty bad. After close to 40 on Sunday and 30 on Tuesday the 23 on Wednesday had me screaming for my mommy.

There were plans of “going easy” and “if you want to go hard, just wait for us.” Those sorts of comments don’t ever seem to fly for this group.

I tagged my second squirrel at Dupont on Wednesday. It was as we were headed down the fast section into the new ridgeline. There was going to be no swerving at upwards of 20 mph in the woods. I saw him come from my right and I tried to extend the bike to keep from hitting him but I got him with the back wheel. ZB said the little guy ran off though so I guess I didn’t help Clemson with their new project of birth control for squirrels. Death is a form of birth control is it not?

Thanks to the illustrious DG we now have pretty pictures and numbers to look at again. For those of you racing the Race to the River this weekend, I will see you there.

If you are in the NC/SC area this weekend you better go do the Save the Trails challenge this weekend. The course is pretty awesome considering I designed it myself. Let me clear my throat, eha eha.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Pictures are from Kristin and me during a hike this past Monday. Can you believe this boy's tounge?

Last night I stopped by Sunrift on my way to Paris with UDM. I am trying to procure some children’s bikes for the Friends and Family Day at Paris mountain. UpState SORBA is participating in the day by setting up a booth and we are looking to include some activities along with children’s rides.

After talking with them I took off on my normal route to Paris. Once inside the park I took a new to me route down Firetower to Kanuga but I took a right hand turn headed toward Brissy. From there I rode all the way down Pippsessewa. Incorporating those three trails together makes for a pretty hefty downhill.

Last weekend I made the leap for some Ergon grips. I had been skeptical but after talking with some of my friends who also ride non-springy bikes I thought I would give them a shot. I took the advice of a seasoned veteran on the bike and left the grips loose on the handlebars the first few rides so I could adjust them appropriately. Up until last night, I liked them but I didn’t think I would leave them on for everyday riding.

Well last night I made a few more adjustments to the angle at which they are parked on the handlebars and wow what a difference. They even felt good through the little tech spots.
After going around the lake, I decided I would try my chances at climbing the steep section of Kanuga back up to Firetower. Holy cow this is a mother of a climb. There was one spot that I had to hoof it for about 20 yards to get around a steep muddy section but other than that I made it up no problem. Besides the fact that I sounded like I was going through labor, I was giving birth to a new climb. It felt pretty good even with the 34X21 which I think might be the magical number for Cohutta

Monday, April 07, 2008

Undead Drunken Monkey

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta’

We were up and at it real early on Saturday. We were headed to Columbia to drop off SCS Monkey and Undead Drunken Monkey for the parts swap. I showed up with six chicken biscuits in hand and a suitcase of beer for the boyz. I instructed them to try and refrain from the drinking until my bike was complete.

From there, we were headed out for a long day in Charleston. Meeting up with our friends downtown for lunch and then off to a wedding reception in Summerville followed by a late night drive back to Kristin’s house in Columbia. All in all I was up for almost 19 hours straight. TMHTE prepared me for this type of day.

Up Sunday morning for an ultra-secret pick up of the UDM. Once we were home the dogs were so happy to see us I thought the world might implode around us. Shade did his “ohhhh my god every time your gone it seems like forever” dance and after throwing the ball a zillion and one times for Buddy it was time to mount my trusty stead for the first time in eight days.

Last week I started to realize that the bike gods are actually on my side. I had just failed to see the half-full cup. These broken frames that I experience seem to always happen before a major event. For example, the first time I did the ORAMM, my SUGAR 292 cracked three weeks beforehand and I ended up riding a CAKE in the race instead of my 29’er. Yes, I have been riding 29’ers for over 3 years now.

Two weeks before the SM-100 my CAKE broke and I was forced to ride a new bike in that race. I am sure there were some other incidents as well but my mind is failing me. With all of this going on you would think that would have broken a frame in a race by now but it has “yet” to happen. Its only a matter of time before it does but so far the God’s of two wheels have blessed me.

After being sick all last week and not doing anything exercise related I thought that I might suffer on this ride. I rode from the house up the Swamp Rabbit Trail, up Altamont, dropped in the park, rode firetower, Kaunga, Lake loop twice, climbed Pippsissewa, Dropped Brissy, took the backside road up to the top, rode the downhill course all the way to the bottom of Mountain creek, left the park via the front entrance, back roads to the front side of Altamont, over the king of the mountain, back to Furman on the SRT home.

I have no idea how far that is but I am guessing around 40. With that distance and climbing Paris three times I am satisfied. My legs felt great as they had their biggest break in a LONG time. My body felt like crap as my sinuses and sickness are still lingering but the mocha frappachino peanut butter cup induced sugar coma that I had climbing Paris the last time sure did help.

Nothing in particular to note about the ride besides the following:

Climbing the backside of Paris (inside the park) I heard a squirrel come running and looked up just in time to see him huck a 10 foot embankment down into a pile of leaves off the side of the road. He hit with the elegance of an extreme skier sticking a 100 foot drop into 10 feet of powder and then popped out of the leaves in an instant running across the road in front of me. It made me laugh out loud.

As I was leaving the park I realized Sunrift was having their demo day in the park and I almost stopped to ask if this poor fellow needed help loading a Kayak high on the multi-stacked trailer. As I climbed the small grunt climb to the road I heard BONNG, BONGG, dunkadunkadunka and looked back to see the kayak now lying on the ground. WHOOPS.

The crazy part is that once I passed Sunrift again on my way home I saw them unloading the same Kayaks.

Its good to have a bike again.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Going Back To My Roots

I am sick as a dog this week, its raining and my bike is going to get re-built real soon. So I thought I would share a story. Story time kids.

The year was 2002 and the month was June. I had just moved to Columbia and I remember coming home from work, not having anything to do. Sure I would go to the gym sometimes but that wasn’t any fun. I needed some stress relief now that I was a “professional” in the real world.

This is when I started taking my Schwinn out to Harbison State Forest in Columbia. I had a heavy rigid bike with flat pedals sans cages, no helmet, gears and rode in cotton with no water. Hell, I didn’t even know how to change a flat. However, somehow, I still fell in love.

One day my trusty steed stopped shifting altogether and all my mechanical prowess (which stops just short of using a screwdriver) couldn’t bring her back. I left her outside my apartment door knowing someone would steal it. It was stolen the night I left it out. I just hoped whoever stole it was as frustrated as I was with the shifting.

That same year my father gave me my first true mountain bike and I fell in love with the sport. Eventually I even learned how to change a flat tire and started putting a brain bucket on my head.

A year or so later I met a group of like minded folks one day while out on the trails and the next thing I knew I had friends to ride with. A lot of these guys and gals would talk about racing. I was never going to race though I told myself. Too much dedication without proper balance forces the love out of things. I had learned that at an early age.

The only reason I rode a mountain bike was for the endorphin filled downhills. Who likes that silly climbing business anyway? That is for sissies who want to look like Tom Cruise I thought. Real men went down. Where is the ski lift?

However, as I gained fitness and learned of a local Race that happened to be coming up I decided I would race. After much pondering, I thought I would bypass the beginner class and suit up with the sport riders. At this point in my riding, I was riding a Gary Fisher Sugar 292 and that fully suspended bike made me feel like I could fly.

To this day, I can still remember standing at the start line, not knowing anyone around me just wondering what was going to happen. I remember one person in particular saying “Well this is a pretty good turn out, looks like we will find out who is the fastest sport rider in Columbia.”

“Go!” and we were off. I am not sure what got in my head but I guess I figured I could slow everyone down if I got the hole shot. So I pinned it out of the gate down a rock road, right turn onto another gravel road and a quick right into the single track. I was in the lead!! Holy crap I thought how in the hell did this happen? After a few minutes I realized that this was like any other riding I had done. You just mash the pedals and hope nobody comes up from behind. I did it for two laps that totaled something like 15 miles. I never saw a soul in that race and finished numero uno about a minute ahead of second place. This mountain bike racing is easy cheese I thought. Never again have I ever even seen the podium at a race. There wasn’t a podium at this race either so even at the one race that I won I got gypped.

This race was a series at Harbison called The Race to the River put on by the local shops in the area. I can’t even begin to explain how this race and the 24 hours of Southern Lights changed my life. It made me realize that I have the potential to fail at so much more in my life than just life itself. (sorry for those of you who are not in the know and would not get this joke, just “ha ha” a little anyway)

This is why I am looking forward to this year’s Race to the River on April 12th. Kristin and I have to be in Columbia anyway so why not race? This year I will be doing the exact opposite from that year so long ago. I will be entering the expert class with one gear and no suspension and I will have the full expectation of coming in last. I have found over the years that this is the best way to get the most bang for your buck. I might put on a big tall gear so I can sprint and talk smack to the riders for the first mile or so but then I will settle into my own slow pace and just relish in the fact that I am back in the roots.

If you are able to ride, be happy.