Thursday, October 23, 2008

TMHTE Training Day # 2

I am slack, I still have to link in the pictures, it will happen someday.

Day 2:

I awoke and had to pee so bad it got me out of the warm bag. I laid back down and gathered my riding clothes and shoved them to the bottom of my bag. Once they were warm I suited up and started talking smack to Joe. He said there was NO WAY I could get him to come out of the tent. Ultimately I had to pull the “Son” card on him and he would later tell me he couldn’t believe I said “Logan wouldn’t be proud of his dad if he stayed in bed instead of finishing the race.” It was harsh but it had to be done.

I was terrified to change my front tube in the cold but the thought of pumping it up all day wasn’t exciting either. So I got out of the bag, turned on my stove, drank PBR and heated up ravioli and mac N Cheese together. It was a breakfast of champions and during the cooking and drinking I was able to swap the tube.

We made it to the start 6:15 AM on time and avoided my greatest fear, getting yelled at for being late two years in a row.

The second day started with the climb we all foresaw, Pilot Mountain Hell ooops I mean road. We took our sweet time with team Smoke Bikes, Beth and Ian at the Fish Hatchery as we all cussed Erinna for telling us the bathrooms were open even though we all knew better.

After chatting for a bit, we started the easy climb that would take us to Gloucester. Our ultimate route for day two would be as follows:

White Pines -> 477 -> 276 -> 475 -> Pilot Mountain Road -> Art Loeb -> BRP -> Black Basalm Road -> Ivestor Gap (mandatory checkpoint 1) -> BRP -> **HIKE Seinerd Ridge -> 225 -> Daniel Ridge (checkpoint 2) -> 475 -> Davidson River Trail -> 276 -> Coontree -> Bennett Gap (Checkpoint 3) -> 477 -> Finish

Once I made it to Gloucester, there were a bunch of teams there hanging out. I chatted with Cook for a long time while we feasted on goldfish Cook had brought. Eventually my new partner Nancy showed up at the gap. Cook offered him some goldfish, he took some and ate them dropping some on the ground. Cook and I immediately started picking the dropped fish off of the ground and ate them. There is no wasting in DD.

Cook, Nancy and I all took off up Pilot Mountain Road. Cook and I chatted for a good 1/3 of the climb until I eventually decided to stop and relieve myself. There was no reason to push things as Nancy was not having a good day.

At the top of Pilot Mountain Road I had time to drink a beer, eat some brownies, watch Cook and Cissy take off, chatted up GatorBack and generally just got cold waiting for Nancy. I told Erinna NOT to tell Nancy where we were headed as I knew that’s when the breakdown would start.

Apparently Joe decided to show up for a minute because once he was there he immediately asked “Where is the mandatory.” I told him Ivestor would be a lavish land to see on such a fine day and luckily Nancy stayed away for awhile.

Heading toward Art Loeb and Farlow I saw team Smoke coming toward me and I thought to myself “They are fast!” When I said “What are you doing.” They replied “What are you doing?” I said “headed to Art Loeb. . . “ Luckily I am not the only one who loses my navigational mind whilst Pisgah Productioning.

We hiked Art Loeb, flip flopping back and forth with Team Smoke. I was jealous of their lightweight rigs as we hiked. Here is what awaited us at the top:

We quickly made our way to Ivestor and saw Mike Brown manning the checkpoint. I had seen the Beer Fairy again at Black Basalm so I was now in Heaven. Joe again shotgunned one beer and I hit the other two following it up with my Highlands Whit I hijacked at Black Basalm while staring at the map.

All of the sudden, out of nowhere Nancy came running out of Shining Rock wilderness and pushed Joe off of the world. CRRRAAAPPP, now I had to deal with Nancy’s bitching again. Nancy wanted to go from Ivestor down BRP to 276 and ride the pavement all the way back to camp. WHAT we climbed all that way to ride the pavement back? I couldn’t let her talk to me like that so I worked up a compromise that would nab us two checkpoints on the way back with minimal climbing.

We hiked down Seinerd Ridge (luckily I had hiked up it earlier in the year or there would be virtually no way of finding the trail head as there is no sign) and hit 225. I had forgotten how much climbing there is on 225 to get to Daniel but it was totally worth it as it spit us out right at the top of the singletrack and we finally got to ride some trail.

After nabbing our second checkpoint, Nancy’s fury almost overwhelmed me. I didn’t have to physically harm her but I did have to say “Shut the fuck up and ride your bike” at one point. Luckily I was so far ahead of her going up Coontree I didn’t have to listen to the moaning. Our third checkpoint in the bag we were the third team to come in for the day. We finished with a respectable 11 checkpoints and we can now call ourselves Double Dare finishers.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TMHTE Training Day # 1 & 2 A.K.A Double Dare

Thoughts of the 2008 Double Dare are pinging around in my head and making smile even though the pain is still very real.

I have a lot of love for Pisgah Production events. There is no doubt in my mind that these are and will be some of the best Mountain Biking events in the world or at least my version of the world.

I would like to explicitly thank Jack, Carlos (hoped I spelled that right), Eric, Erinna, Mike Brown, Janet (I hope I got her name right too it was a long weekend), BradO (too bad you couldn’t be there brother) and any other volunteer I have missed, YOU GUYS and GALS KICK ASS!!

I have tried many formats of writing race reports but I always fall back to chronological. It just makes the most sense as I am not an accomplished enough writer to handle flash forwards or backs. I label each section in case my gibberish gets the best of you.

Ever since being sick and moving houses the day before DD 2007, I wanted revenge on this race and Eric for yelling at me for missing the start time on Sunday 2007. I would NOT let this happen again.

Pre-race Gibberish

Rigid Single Speed or Geared bike with a fork was the question of this race for me. Ultimately I had to go with the Geared bike as I had trained on it and I wasn’t sure if my newly healed wrist would withstand the rigors of rigid.

Nuts seemed to be a theme for this race and fall. I have a Aluminum carport at my Cabin in Travelers Rest and some relentless Oak trees that throw down nuts so hard it sounds like M80’s firing off. I thought this would keep Joe awake all night as he decided to take shelter in our house Friday night but he said he had slept great which was good as I woke every hour or so to the nutcrackers.

I am getting much better at pre-preparing for races and I was comfortable at the start. We were told a time trial to the Gauging Station was in order and immediately new our route. I figured there was a faster way but I HATE riding my bike around trails in Pisgah.

Race Day # 1:

12:09 PM was our start time out of the gate leaving from White Pines North by the Horse Stables.

Our ultimate route for the day would be:

477 -> ClawHammer -> Buckhorn -> S. Mills River (North) -> Pink Beds (checkpoint 1) -> 276 -> BRP -> **HIKE MT. Pisgah Trail (out and back, checkpoint 2) -> BRP -> Pisgah lodge connector trail -> Pilot Rock -> Laurel Mountain Connector (checkpoint 3) -> Laurel Mountain -> 1206 -> Yellow Gap (Checkpoint 4) -> 5015 -> Bradley Creek (Mandatory Checkpoint 5 + ½ checkpoint) -> Laurel Creek -> Squirrel Gap (North) -> Cantrell (Checkpoint 6) -> S. Mills River (Checkpoint 7) -> Buckhorn -> Clawhammer -> 477 -> Finish time 12:08 (< 1 minute to spare) final checkpoint count 7 ½

I have a hard time getting into a “time trial” four minutes into a 24 hour race. So we took our sweet time ascending Clawhammer. I was really taking all the views in and just generally stoked to be riding our bikes in such an awesome place and time.

Riding down Buckhorn and the northern section of S. Mills River was a real treat. It is one of the few places in Pisgah where you ride next to the river instead of through it. I had told Joe there was no way I was bypassing that section of trail for pavement. He was happy to agree.

At the Gauging station we received our passport of where all 10 checkpoints would be for the day. Even though I know my way around Pisgah, I am always overwhelmed by the decisions that need to be made so quickly and I am always terrified I am going to break some rule and DNF my team.

With this in mind I saw a couple groups (who I trust) head off toward Pink Beds and I realized it would be silly to skip that checkpoint since it was only a few miles away. We ran with it and took off down the trail. That Section of Pink Beds is super fun and it is always nice to hit some single track that isn’t straight up or down.

We bagged our first checkpoint and then I stared at the map. I really thought about going back toward 477 but when I saw Dicky and Morgan head that way I knew I didn’t want them slowing us down on the way back so we took Pink Beds the rest of the way to 276.

My original plan was to hit 1206 and hike straight up Pilot to bag the first checkpoint but then I was swayed when Cook and Cissy took off up 276 all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We followed them and I hit my low point of the day trying to keep pace up 276. I hadn’t prepared mentally for the million and one cars combined with the steep grade. It took its toll on my and I had to stop and stretch my back multiple times. It would have been many more had it not been for my Epic Designs bag that everyone ooohed and ahhhed over all weekend. Yeah that bag kicks ass just like the race.

When we reached the intersection of 276 and the parkway I couldn’t believe how cold it was. It was bright, sunny windy and cold.

I lost it mentally for awhile once we got to the Pisgah Inn, I thought we would hike in, nab the Laurel Checkpoint and go head toward Trace Ridge. Well once we started hiking I got it in my head that I was breaking a rule. So I had Joe and I turn around and we hunt and pecked to find the Mt. Pisgah trailhead for a minute. I was completely frustrated with myself because I knew I was fine with the original plan but my mind was doing flip flops.

We found the Mt. Pisgah trailhead and made the short hike up and back. We saw a bunch of other teams including solo Ohio Rob so I chatted him up and he eased my mind about how we were allowed to hike from the BRP to access trails just not internal trails. Crap, he was right and it straightened my head out, thanks Rob! I was so glad we chose to hike when we got to the firetower. The clouds had moved in but there were still rays of sunshine poking through in the valleys. It was stunning, to say the least.

We decided it was too cold to stay on the parkway so we made our way back to the Pilot Laurel connector to nab the third checkpoint of the day. I was excited that we would get to descend Laurel Mountain. What a treat!! The trail was in superb shape and I was feeling strong cleaning most everything while flying through the halls of yellow that nature provided. I would stop every now and then to wait for Joe and pump my front tube back up as I had a slow leak but didn’t want to chance changing it as long as I could pump it and leave it for an hour or so.

We finally started meeting up with teams that were headed in the opposite direction and I was so glad they were headed to the windy parkway instead of us. When we met up with Jut and Bruce we had to sit and have a pow wow and discuss life. We decided life was good and parted ways with larger than life smiles hooting about how we would see each other soon.

Stopping only for a moment at yellow gap (Checkpoint 4) we strapped on our lights for the screaming descent down 5015 to our mandatory checkpoint and special test. Jack asked me if I wanted to shoot a BB gun or shotgun beer. I said “Is that really a question?” and he said he had to ask. Joe shot-gunned one of the mandatory beers while I shot two and then drank another while staring at the map. Jack said that there was no penalty for drinking extra beer, sheeeeeeeew. Now we had 5 ½ checkpoints (1/2 for shot-gunning beer).

I had three more checkpoints on the brain but wasn’t sure how to nab them. So we headed for the Squirrel Gap checkpoint first. Riding Squirrel in the dark with a good beer buzz was awesome and I was feeling really strong.

We nabbed the topside of Cantrell and descended Cantrell to get the bottom checkpoint. Once there I told Joe about the horrors of S. Mills River to Buckhorn and offered an alternate route but it included climbing so Joe insisted on S. Mills River. If you have ever ridden this beast you know, if you haven’t you don’t and until you do you won’t. I just kept whispering to myself to not let it get to me. The harder you pedal the faster you bounce over all of those rocks.

I was at the intersection of S. Mills and Squirrel waiting for Joe so I pumped my front tire again and was staring at the map plotting our 8th checkpoint when Joe rolled up and said “It’s 11:00 we have to hurry.” We had exactly one hour nine minutes to make it from there to White Pines. No 8th checkpoint for us and we would be lucky not to “DNF.”

I hammered way too hard up the end of S. Mills River and waited for Joe just before the turn to Buckhorn. I let him go in front of me so I could encourage him to move along as he looked a little pale. I started giving all the motivational speeches I could after 11 hours on the bike. I said “think about the beer, we don’t want to DNF, we MUST finish, just pedal a little harder” when all of the sudden halfway up Buckhorn I hit the WALL HARD. I lost my beer buzz and it felt as though I were dying. I got off my bike and stood there wondering if I would pass out when I realized I was REALLY HUNGRY. I pulled out my cliff bloks and shoved four of them in my mouth, got on the bike pedaled and chewed simultaneously. Then my stomach GROWLED, so I got off the bike, grabbed the last six bloks I had and shoved them in my cheeks, got back on the bike and repeated the chewing pedaling process. I found some strength left in my legs and rolled up to Clawhammer with Joe telling me we had 15 minutes left. SHIIIIIITTTTTTTT.

KILLING IT in the big ring down Clawhammer drifting the gravel corners praying to mother nature that the wind hadn’t changed circumstances since the morning I had fleeting thoughts about what would happen if we didn’t make the checkpoint, WE WOULD SLEEP IN!!

Down at the bottom we kept it in the big ring, stood up and pedaled with all of our might down 477. We heard cheers when we reached the campground but couldn’t find a way through all of the cars. I was about to climb over a hood when I saw a small opening. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet so I threw down my bike and immediately lay close enough to the fire to catch myself on fire. It was a proud moment as we had arrived at 12:08.

Beth immediately offered some chili and beer, I obliged. Then Jody offered a beer, I obliged. I warmed and then ran to my tent to change into dry clothes. I saw my sleeping bag and loathed for her love. Out like a light.

Day 2, pictures and report will come tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Life is on high gear right now. Unlike the past hot months where I didn’t write because I was in a pathetic slump of not riding from the wrist being hurt, I am riding now, riding often and smiling every bit of the way.

There have been so many highlights on my rides as of late I don’t know where to start. So here is my random thought pattern of cool things that I have participated in over the past few weeks.

Kristin and I navigated four miles of the French Broad River from Hot Springs NC to Murray Branch. I didn’t bring the helmets because I got advice that this “Was a nice peaceful section of the river.” In retrospect, helmets are good in all situations. We made the trip with only one portage around a drop about 300 yards from our put in at camp. There were many other butt scoots and tricky maneuvers due to water levels being so low but what a great adventure for a Saturday morning. The weather was indescribable and I thought for sure the leaves were changing colors in front of my eyes. I set up the shuttle with a quick trip in the car and an even quicker five mile ride back along River road. There is nothing like using the bike to shuttle yourself down the river.

Kristin had a Hot Springs soak set up for us in the evening, it was superb and that’s all that needs to be said about that.

Shade always adds a little excitement into the mix and decided to go on a Blue Heron hunting expedition. Somehow Shad thought he could catch this bird even though it was 100 yards out in the middle of the river. With his leash still attatched he took off bounding through the river until the Heron took off and he was being whisked away down the current as I ran down the shore calling wildly for him. I wouldn’t have been so nervous had his leash not been attached. All was good as Shade is a quick swimmer and I think he learned a lesson about fast moving water. Buddy watched from the sidelines.

It just so happened that Jeff would be in Hot Springs so we both decided to bring bikes even though we had heard from the masses that the biking was minuscule. I got a rough estimate that the trails in TN would be better for us and took off with that knowledge alone. Jeff brought the single so we opted out of the four mile flat that I had ridden for the shuttle the day before and parked at Murray Branch for the following loop:

River Road -> Paint Rock Road -> Paint Rock Mountain Trail -> Chimney Rock Trail -> ???? -> Paint Rock Mountain Trail -> ???? Paint Rock road -> River Road

Limited on time and knowledge I had low expectations for this ride. I figured we would get some sweating in and maybe see a trail. However, we were still in Pisgah National Forest and she has yet to let me down. The climb was great, a good enough grade to make me sweat and just when we thought we were at the top, we were halfway, sweet!!

The trail turned into an immediate ridgeline with full views of the valley below. It continued that way until we hit Chimney and had a killer descent to the wrong side of the River. . . Uh ohhh, what time did you tell your wife again? Cus I think we have some climbing to do. . .

Climbing Paint Mountain from the backside was an incredible grade that kept me on my toes in the granny gear. I did my best to ride every piece of this beast but had to walk some of the steeper switchbacks. This is obviously horse country but most everyone we met was friendly and the Horse guys always know the trails well. I talked to one fellow that said “You could ride for days around here.” I now believe him and I will listen to the voices inside my own head before I let someone tell me there are no trails in a particular town.

We also witnessed a strange event. A couple on horses met us and passed when the second dog trailing along decided Jeff and I were much too dangerous to pass. The man would yell back in a southern drawl Mac, CumOnnnn Maaaaaaaccccc. This would entice the dog to rear forward but when he got close to me he would growl and then run back down the trail away from his owner. Eventually this guy realized the dog was not coming no matter how forcefully he yelled the dog’s name. So he got off the horse and sort of soft kicked the dog by us. Good times in the woods.

Double Dare coming this weekend, sweet I love Double D. . . what were we talking about?