Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ORAMM is Coming

Days left until I toe the line at my nemesis race: Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell.   I'm nervous to say the least.  And excited.  The last time I attempted this race was in 2010 and I DNF'ed.  I also DNF'ed in '09 with an ambulance ride and visit to the ER.  The last time I completed the entire route was 3 weeks after the race in 2010.  I went solo,   had to get that monkey off my back. 

Fast forward 4 yrs, and here I am.  4 yrs of rides, pain, suffering, success.  WN Precision fit, Siren's John Henry set up Single Speed, nutrition and training advice from a lot of people, including Namrita and Eddie O'dea! 

To say I'm ready would be overconfident.  I didn't follow a training plan this year.  My DNF at the P111K definitely encouraged me to "train" but I decided not to follow rigid structure this year.  My 250 mile ride from VA to Asheville brought my legs back to life and taught me a little more about nutrition.   I'm having fun on the bike and not stressing about how many hours I'm getting.  I'm still following my HR and know approximately how hard I can go for how long.  My friends tell me I am riding strong and looking ready. 

I have my doubts,  its natural, but overall, I am ready. 

I just hope I can get some sleep between now and race day!

Friday, July 11, 2014


 Its been a while since I have posted.  It is summer time and summer time is slammed time.  I have trips going out almost everyday and on a rare day with no trips..... I take advantage and get office type stuff done.   Fun times!

The ride last night started well enough.  Hot and humid and not too fast.  The skies were clear after a huge storm had passed earlier.  I was glad to get out.  I'm averaging 2 training rides per week this time of year, and with ORAMM coming up,  I don't take this time for granted.   I'm bound to be losing fitness though, so my nemesis race will be more like a big ride.  That's fine with me.  I want to finish and sit in that creek without feeling like I'm going to die!
 So, we were cruising along Butler Bridge Rd last night, a group of 4 off the front when a vehicle turned left in front of them.  Bob and Jamie hit some brakes and went down hard.  Officer McMurray was helpful and informed the guys that they were better off not filing a report because their insurance premiums would go up.  That's what I gathered second hand anyway.  Jamie asked the guy for a card, he said he didn't have business cards,  that the state does not pay for them.  I though police were required to have some sort of ID that they could leave with a person.   Maybe I'll order some from Vistaprint and send them to him.
Bob's wife came and picked the two up and hauled them to the hospital.  The rest of us continued the ride, a bit deflated and discouraged for our friends.

Its good to live in a cycling community that sticks together in crisis.  Its good to live amongst people who care on many different levels.

Prayers for Bob and Jamie for a speedy recovery.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


This morning, I'm thankful.  For a lot.  So much to appreciate, so much that I sometimes take for granted.

The wife, working all night to help people.  The kid,  being a kid and challenging me to be a better dad, without even knowing it.  My house,  it is solid, warm and dry.  And now thanks to a lot of blood, sweat, tears (and a couple of f-bombs),  it looks good and is more functional. 

My friends,  for the smiles, encouraging words, keeping me on my toes, helping me laugh.

Yes, I know this is vague, but my bike rides and anyone who has helped me achieve in that area.  From sponsors to race volunteers to race promoters to competitors.

And then I become overwhelmed with so much to write and so little time.

Thankful for my job,  I get take kids on bike rides....  awesome.

Make a point today to be thankful!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday Night Liberty Ride

Traffic Jams everywhere

Now we know the truth (Kevin Hessler)

Another day in paradise!

Hot but hydrated

Fun times (Chris Brown)
Fun ride,  started mellow,  then ran into a ton of traffic.  Traffic was backed up on Hendersonville Rd, I-26 and Hwy 191.  Is Obama in town? 

The pace picked up mid ride with the typical antics.  Fun times, good training. 

A few of us rode up and over Reynolds Mountain to finish out the ride.  A nice change to fighting traffic on Hendersonville rd.

My fitness is good,  I hope it stays around for ORAMM!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pulaski VA to Asheville VA: Day 3

 After about 3 hours of sleep, I was awake and rolled out of bed around 6am.  I walked across the street to the gas station and got a 16oz cup of coffee.  I was so tired I didn't even think to complain about the quality.  I was beat.  I had around 90 miles to get home, and an extra day.  I really wanted to extend my trip, but realizing that this week is the beginning of a very busy summer season,  I wanted to be properly rested going into it.  I had a couple of ideas, places that I wanted to detour to, but decided against it. 
So, I headed south and stopped at Christa's or some food.  Her homemade yeast rolls weren't ready yet, and there was a pile of smoked butts on the counter waiting to be prepped for sandwiches.  I opted for one bacon, egg and cheese for now, and one bacon and cheese for later.  And more coffee.

I took my time.  I had been doing that on this trip.  Slowing down and stopping at some overlooks.  It is a good thing to do.  Enjoy the view, stop and smell the roses.  I need to do more of that everyday.

After a few miles, the mountains kicked up and the real climbing started.  VA has climbs but NC's are longer and steeper.  The miles tick by slower. 
 My muscles warmed up after a while and I was enjoying the ride.  My thoughts turned to my night's lodging.  Why do I bother bringing camping gear, if I'm not going to use it?  I considered my reasoning,  and realized that comfort is a big deal.  Feeling some sort of comfort,protection and security from the weather is an important mental element.  Endurance athletes talk a lot about muscle recovery, but not quite as much about mental recovery.

I remembered how I used to love pitching a tent, regardless of the weather and feeling warm, dry and secure.  Sometimes in wind,  other times in a downpour.  It was then that I realized that maybe the tarp set up is not for me.  It does protect from rain and can be set up in several different configurations to protect from wind.  But,  when it storms and the wind and rain pound and swirl,  I definitely get splashed.

There is also the issue of wind chill.  Anyway.  I'm going to do some research on my shelter options.

 I worked my way up and over the numerous climbs.  Each one different,  each one taking effort and energy.  Stopping periodically at overlooks to refill my water bottle and soak in the fresh air. 
 I definitely lingered,  not wanting the trip to be over yet.  This is such a beautiful place we live in and I don't get to take these trips very often.   I don't take the time for granted, and no matter how tired I felt,  I knew I had to make the most of it.  As far as I knew, it would be a while before I would have the chance to get out again.  (but as you know, if that window opportunity opens, I take it!)
Spinning along

Big Views

One mile to go.
 And then I was home.  I rolled up to my front door and stood there for a moment,  looking at myself in the reflection.  I was glad to be home.  This had been a good trip.  I was tired and content....
... I'm looking forward to next time!

Pulaski Va to Asheville NC: Day 2

 Morning finally rolled around. I had planned on sleeping in, but woke up at 6:30am.  I was a bit sore but got up and got on the road.  A quick stop at Hardees for a couple of biscuits and then heading over to the parkway.  There was not a lot of climbing to get up to the two lane ribbon of pavement, so I made good time.  The skies were clear and it was already warm.  Summertime.  As I pedaled my thoughts turned again to why I was doing this.  I was tired, and hot, and my saddle was not adjusted just right because I had failed to take a measurement correctly.  I wasn't having fun at the moment but knew that things would eventually change.  Maybe I should have had another cup of joe!
 My plan today was to make it the roughly 90 miles to Moses H Cone Memorial Park and camp.  I was concerned that there would be no spots left, so I had several other campgrounds in mind if that one were full.  That would entail another 10 - 20 miles of pedaling though. 
 Most of the day was uneventful,  just pedaling,  enjoying the scenery and planning my next ride.... 
 I stopped for lunch at the Northwest Trading post.  A ham and cheese sub, coke, and I saved the chips and pecan tart for later. I enjoyed not moving for a few minutes but didn't want to linger too long.  Time was ticking and campsites were filling up. 
 About 15 miles I crossed the VA/NC state line, the topography starts to change with longer and slightly steeper grades.  I'm pretty familiar with some of these and they seem to never end, especially the ones on either side of Deep Gap.  My other nemesis is the stretch between Hwy 181 and Hwy 80.  
 I arrived at the campground earlier than expected, around 3:30pm.  I was please to find that there were plenty of spaces left.  But it was early, so I took a look around trying to decide what to do.  I was pretty disappointed in the condition of the campground.  It was pretty run down, and that diminished my desire to stay.  The campground host called ahead to Linville and told me that they only had 9 spots left and they were filling up fast.  I filled up my water and decided to keep riding.

 It was getting hot, and I had gotten a little behind on staying hydrated.  It was my own fault so I tried to drink a little extra and keep going.  As I pedaled around Grandfather Mountain,  I watched the storms passing by in front of and behind me, knowing that at any moment, I could be ducking for shelter, hiding from lightning.  As I neared Hwy 221 where I could drop down into Linville, and then head to Pineola,  I decided to head to Down By The River Campground and camp for the night.

As I cruised the 2 miles down the mountain,  the skies grew dark and I got worried about what was coming and what the night would hold.  I saw The Pixie Inn in Linville and like a Siren I was lured into false security.

Dinner was crap food from the gas station: Sprite, Pimento Cheese Sammy etc; because after 107 miles and dehydration, I didn't have the motivation to cook my mac n cheese. 

 For $50 I got a room, hot shower and a mouse that woke me up in the middle of the night trying to steal my nacho cheese flavored Bugles.  I had to stick a spoon in the window latch because the lock was gone.  I only got about 3 hrs of intermittent sleep and laying there, I wondered if I had it in me to pack up and pedal on.  But it was 3am and I decided to wait a little longer. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pulaski Va to Asheville NC Day 1

 It dawned on my about 30 minutes before I got dropped off, that I would be riding the trail upriver.

I have wanted to ride The New River Trail State Park for a long time.  I first heard about it about 16 yrs ago, when the wife and I stopped at the Shot Tower.  I have followed the trail's progress ever since.  I finally had the opportunity to ride it, then get on the parkway and head home.

After driving through thunderstorms, my awesome  family dropped me off under mostly sunny skies.  It was 5:15pm by the time I go rolling.  With roughly 3.5 hrs of daylight left I was itching to get rolling. 

The New River Trail is a rail to trail conversion.   It goes from Pulaski VA to Galax VA with short side spur to Fries VA.  I saddled up and got into a rythym, anxious to see how far I could make it tonight.  I did not think that Galax was within reach but I was pleasantly surprised at my pace and became hopeful as the miles ticked by.

A gentle grade, barely discernible took me mostly along the New River.  The forest walls were dense on both sides and limited view, but the trail was clear and smooth.  Horses are allowed to use the trail and I passed a couple of rodeo arenas.  I imagine that at times the area could get pretty crowded with horses.  Somewhere in the middle of the distance, I came upon a group of about 8 horseback riders were had ridden out and back.  The trail was now pockmarked with hoofprints,  not deep, just enough to rattle me to the bone.  I was really wising I had a carbon bar instead of the aluminum one, but such is life. 
 I maintained a steady pace but stopped to take pictures fairly often.  I was not worried about the impending dark.  I was prepared with lights, one on the handle bar and one on my helmet.  And a blinky light on the rear.  Actually,  I was hoping that I would get caught out in the dark so that I could practice that. 
 I rode past numerous old train depots.  There is a campground at Foster Falls that I did not stop to check out.  I was aiming for the campground at Cliffview, about 5 miles outside of Galax. 
 The trail crosses the river several times with these wooden trestles. 

 As I climbed gently, the river became narrower and more scenic.  There were multiple places that I wanted to stop, but being unsure of the night's "lodgings", I decided to keep rolling.

I arrived at Cliffview Campground with about 15 minutes of light left.  I looked around.  The campsites were nice and clean, but empty.  There were several families in the area picnicking.  Hmm.  I really wanted to camp in this pristine spot by the river, but prefer not to camp alone.  I've seen some crazy things and feel safer with other people around.

After talking to a local who was very helpful,  I decided to try my luck in Galax,  upgrading from campground to motel. 

I got into Galax around 9:30pm, after dark and began the search for somewhere to sleep.  I considered my free options: church, city park etc.  But, then I found the Rhodeway Inn and for $50 had a chance at sleeping well,  so I took it.   After checking in,  I headed 3 blocks down to Macado's for some grub and was in bed by 10:30pm.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ORAMM Training

 I took off Saturday for an ORAMM training ride.   I was trying out a couple of things and was hoping the results would be positive.

The main thing was my nutrition.  I was going to find out if I could make it without a Camelbak.  Just two bottles.  For some people, this is a no brainer,  but I've grown accustomed to needing more water.  Recently, I realized that I am probably diluting any electrolytes that I am consuming.  The cool water feels good temporarily,   but of the course of 3-4 hrs, my body is lacking the necessary minerals compared to the amount of water I am taking in.

So, I started out with two bottles, one with sports drink and one with nuun.  I planned on refilling at the spring on Curtis Creek Rd, and was hoping to find some water at the seep on the way down Heartbreak.

The other thing I was trying out was my single speed gearing.  I wanted to see how the 32x21 worked for me on a longer ride.
 I parked at the geyser and headed up into the woods onto Star Gap.  The air was cool and felt like it stayed that way all day.  Later people talked about how hot it got, but when I finished up, my thermometer read 75.  I enjoyed the cool,  and hoped it would be like this on race day.  Speaking of race.  I'm not racing this year, I'm finishing.....

Up and over the gap, down onto Jarrets Creek Rd,  winding, climbing, cruising.  The gravel grind was uneventful and I popped out on Curtis Creek Rd.  Here I was spun out.  But I took the opportunity to relax and maintain a low heart rate.  I started climbing and was feeling great.  As I neared the spring, I emptied my bottles.

I continued to enjoy the cool lushness.

I thought ahead to the climb and realized that it might not be a good idea trying to make it the rest of the way on only two water bottles.  I considered that on race day, there would be 3 more water stops between here and Heartbreak and that if I could make it today, I would definitely make it then.  I got back on the bike, ready for the climb.

I assumed a steady pace.  Knowing that if my heart rate stays too high to long, I overheat and I'm done.  I pass a couple of people on the way  up and we chat briefly while we ride.  Once I reach the parkway, I'm halfway through my bottles and wish I could drink more.  I know I need to stretch it, so I do.

South on the Parkway, I lookout over the ridges and valleys of the Appalachian mountain range.  I'm so privileged to live in a place like this.  48 mph down into the gap and then another climb up to the Heartbreak trailhead.  The hike a bike does not seem to be as difficult as I remembered.  Either I'm stronger, or I'm more in control of my effort and not about to blow up.

In fact, I'm feeling really good. I can almost stay on top of my gearing but consider going with a 32-22 on race day so I can spin more.
I'm almost out of water as I ride down Heartbreak.  I could definitely use a full bottle.  I know I can refill at the creek at the bottom, but I stop at the seep.  The trickles are running pretty good and it takes me about 10 minutes to fill up and mix my sports drink mix.  I'm closer to getting this nutrition thing dialed.  4 hrs and nothing solid to eat except a granola bar and a pack of Pro Bar blocks.  This will be my 3rd bottle of sports drink holding about 400 calories. 
After filling up, I drink and my body is happy.  I cruise down the hill, considering how my body feels and coming to the conclusion that I definitely have it in me to climb Mill Creek rd,  if only I had the time. 

I'll save it for another day. 
Another good ride finished up.  I'm actually excited about finishing ORAMM this year.  This thing has been my nemesis.  I won't get caught up, I'll go my own pace...

...enjoy the ride!