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
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!
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
|Traffic Jams everywhere|
|Now we know the truth (Kevin Hessler)|
|Another day in paradise!|
|Hot but hydrated|
|Fun times (Chris Brown)|
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!
Posted by Stephen at 7:28 AM
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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.
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.
|One mile to go.|
Posted by Stephen at 8:32 AM
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.
Posted by Stephen at 7:50 AM
Monday, June 23, 2014
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 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.
Posted by Stephen at 8:59 AM
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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.
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'll save it for another day.
...enjoy the ride!
Posted by Stephen at 7:31 AM