Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cross Time

After some initial slacking, I finally got around to beginning the arduous task of converting the SuperFly to cross mode.  This pretty much consisted of swapping my fat and grippy 2.25 acx tires for some skinny 35c cross tires and congratulating myself on another job well done. Although, I'm not really sure what to call it.  CrossFly? SuperCross?  Take the easy way out and just add "CX" to the end of it?  Meh, who knows...

Looking down at the skinnies felt sort of odd at first, but I soon got used to it.  I headed up to Bristol, TN for the Mud, Sweat, and Gears cross series last weekend for some fun and painful times.  Cross weather came and went, with most races involving a random combination of super-gusting winds, pouring rain, and bright sunshine, with a relatively constant temp of around 40 degrees. Being mostly an endurance guy, cross racing is always a shock to my system the first race or so, but it was fun day out on the bike. Congrats to area trek rep Jeff Haase for a close 2nd in the Masters race.

The 29er is definitely sufficient for a cross bike, at least for what I do...  At 22ish lb, it's def a bit heavier than most cross bikes, but in the tradeoff you get much much better brakes, as well as the ability to leave some travel in the fork for rough courses.  Not enough of a tradeoff to make me get a cross bike yet... Although, that Presidio looks pretty sweet... Hmmm...

Oh, and even Lance knows that 29ers are where it's at...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday Rides

With two beautiful Sundays in a row, long road rides have made a come back. Who would have thought that it would be 75 degrees in November?

After riding for 12 hours last Saturday, I was looking forward to a nice relaxing Sunday. I had an offer for a road ride, and figured it would be a great way to stretch the legs out and get a good recovery ride in. The duration of the ride was never specified, so I somehow assumed it would be around 1.5 hours, maybe 2. Twenty minutes in, we met up with the rest of the group, and it was decided we should ride for 3 hours. I wasn’t too thrilled with that prospect, since I was already suffering on little rollers and falling off the back. I was able to stick it out though, and it turned out to be a good ride. Nobody was in much of a hurry, so everyone could enjoy the ride and chat while I was in the back glued to the wheel in front of me and not talking to anyone. I also had some pretty sweet slow motion scenes giving it everything I had climbing and watching the single digit speeds mock me on my computer. Survival was the theme of the day. But in the end we had a nice 3.5 hours of sunny roads, so I couldn’t really complain.

Yesterday was another fantastic day, with highs on the day hitting 76 degrees. After a productive morning of extra DST sleep and getting things accomplished, E and I headed out to take advantage of the beautiful day. Even though we didn’t have a cue sheet and weren’t completely sure of the route, we decided to attempt a really nice loop towards Sevier County and then back through Walland and South Knoxville. This is the 4th of July route for the SCO club, and we had ridden it on the 4th the last 2 years, but that was it. Our memory was surprisingly good, and we only had one missed turn.

About 32 or so miles in, we were beginning to think about how that DST hour that was so nice in the morning was going to affect the time it would get dark. 40 miles in, we stopped at a gas station in Pigeon Forge (Or Sevierville? Neither? Who knows…) which we always stop at during the 4th of July ride. By this point we were guessing we had maybe 2 hours of light left. After a phone call to see if there was a quicker route back (there wasn’t), we headed onwards as planned. After seeing a sign saying “7.5 miles to the Homestead,” I did the math to find out we had 39-40 miles to cover in less than two hours. Hmmm… (As a side note, I have since been told to keep such revelations to myself if we are in that situation again.)

I guess this is a good time to mention that we were decked out in summer wear only, with no extra clothes or blinky lights of any kind. East Miller’s Cove was free_ing cold at 23-24 mph the whole way, but we were definitely at the point of trading warmth for time. We hit Old Walland Highway with right around an hour of daylight left. We were hoping to at least reach the city outskirts and lighted streets, but I had to lose the glasses soon after we hit Martin Mill, and we were in complete darkness by the time we came over the bigger climb on Martin Mill. Luckily a car caught us right before we went down, so I was less concerned about being run down and could concentrate on descending into the black. On the last section of Martin Mill, we thankfully got some help from a car who paced behind us with the high beams on. Thanks silver kinda smallish SUVish car with bike racks on top. You Rock. It was then smooth sailing after hitting the lighted part of the city.

Our adventure ended with 4.5 hours and 80 miles on the day. Good Times…

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HOT Circles

The Haw Ridge race turned out to once again be a fun day on the bike.  Even though it rained all day friday, the course was only mildly wet and slick.  I decided to race the singlespeed to start it off.  To know why, you only need to look up above at the title of my blog. You know, riding in circles is just way too exciting, and I didn't want to be distracted by the clickies.  Maybe.  

I started off allright on the 1/4 mile of flat pavement, and was probably 10th or so heading into the woods.  Had to make a few passes halfway through, but for the most part it was smooth sailing and traffic free.  There wasn't a single puddle on the trail, and I finished the first lap with only a few splotches of mud.  The singlespeed was great for a few laps, but the steep climbs up red hill and the hill of truth were killing my knees.  The HOT is just the right grade and length where walking it would cost you minutes of time every lap, but it's steep enough that you are mashing horribly and wrecking your arms trying to get up it.

After 6 laps, I decided that singlespeeding was for amateurs, and hopped on the superfly.  It was silky smooth, and it felt nice to be able to spin again on climbs and actually make it all the way over the HOT.  I cut a lap close on forgoing the lights, and got to descend the last section in near darkness.  After that it was lights, warmers, and vest time, as the temperature dropped swiftly.

I was pretty much locked into third place all day, which is pretty much what I was expecting based on my riding lately.  After 13 laps, I did some math and was able to call it a day a lap up on 4th.  After some free_ing cold times changing clothes afterwards, I was able to relax and hang out by the fire for a while.  Good friends and good beer couldn't really equal anything other than good times...  

Congrats to fellow 29er crew member Erik Nielson for winning the solo and Mike Biegalksi for a strong 2nd.  

Since I didn't get to see Rachel fall in the water, I guess I'll have to settle for this.  (For those that don't know, this trail is called Rachel's Landing...  You can probably guess why.)

"Has anybody fallen in the... SPLASH"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hill O Truth

The 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth is finally upon us.  This is always a great race to end the season with.  It's always exciting to be able to do a 12 hour race and still sleep in your own bed the night before and after the race. Well... Without driving all night and getting home at 4 or 5 in the morning anyways.

Stay away from me Disco Ball of Broken Dreams

Hopefully this year's race will go a bit better than the last one.  I got on a plane in Hawaii feeling fantastic the wednesday before the race. A few hours later saw me feeling sick in the stomach and shivering uncontrollably in an airport with a fleece jacket and 2 blankets on me.  I felt a little better over the next few days, but not 100%. I had already pre-registered, so I did the race anyways.  My first 2 laps were sort of mediocre, but ok if I had kept that pace all day.  My third lap was awful, and I dropped alot of time.  By the end of my 4th lap, I had dropped 15 or 20 minutes off my first lap and had stopped 3 or 4 times to share the contents of my stomach with the side of the trail.  After that, I called it a day...

With 100% chance of rain today with one inch of rainfall expected, it's gonna get messy for sure. Looks like I'll be starting on the SS. Actually I'll probably just ride it all day. Gotta keep it interesting...

Can we top the horrendous DSG mud?  Perhaps?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Finally Fall?

Over the past few days it seems like fall has finally arrived.  After sweating on my commute in 80 degree weather a few days ago, I'm now breaking out the winter clothing and learning how to shiver again.  I guess right under 40 degrees isn't that bad, but I'll probably still complain and whine for a few weeks about it.  

At least I have another month or two until the red shins return...

Although I've been carrying my camera with me everywhere, I haven't been finding many good pictures on my commute. So far, this is about the only good one I've been able to find.

Because I'm pretty sure it's not really love until you write your names on a rusted out industrial sized trash dumpster. I would have loved to have seen the moment this happened...  Maybe they were huffing markers and there was something magical about how the moonlight glinted on the dumpster. Something profound about the shadows from a streetlight?  Who knows... Godspeed Johanna and Wesley...Godspeed...  

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black Bear Rampage

The 2008 Black Bear Rampage down at the Ocoee whitewater center turned out to be another great time on and off the bike.  Tanasi is one of my favorite trail systems in the southeast, so its always great to get down there and race.  

I had decided to rock the singlespeed, and got a little excited at the start as I jumped away a little too hard on the road climb.  But I settled back in, and thought I hit the singletrack in first. But I had apparently been watching the wrong guy, as I found out at the end of the race that one guy had slipped by on the doubletrack and I hadn't noticed.  Where were you on that one eyes?  

But the rest of the race went without incident.  My form isn't quite what it was earlier in the spring, but I felt good and had a consistent race.  The 32x20 was close for most sections, but a 19 would probably have been better.  There are quite a few long flat/rolling sections that I was pretty much spun out on.  I finished up the race in 19th overall, and 2nd in the SS.

I think this year's BBR was a definite improvement in most aspects. Adding the road climb was a great way to start, and basing the event at the WWC is much better than the overflow lot.  And the inflatable kid's slide was more fun than it probably should have been.  My one complaint would be having to wait 3-3.5 hours for food, and that there was nothing to drink at all besides monster energy drink... Well, that and the god-awful retina burningly ugly shirt.  But overall, the BBR was definitely good times.

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Shenandoah

I managed to snag a few clicks from the Shenandoah race last weekend.  I ended up rocking the glasses in the helmet for probably 70% of the race, which is odd, as I'm normally the guy that wears them in the dark, in the rain, whatever... I never take those things off.

There were a couple of nice creek crossings...

This picture just looks funny as it was taken at just the right angle with the glasses in the helmet to make it look like I'm actually wearing them.

I'm way too excited about being done.  Sorry for the overreaction, I'll try to calm it down for next time...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nowhere Close

The Shenandoah 100 ending up being one of the roughest days I've had on the bike all season. With a tough course with tons of climbing and rocky technical descents, it was not so much a place that tolerated mediocre legs.

The race started off decently, and I was making up quite a few places on the initial rolling climb. However, I started to fade to the back of the group I was with on the first major climb. I still felt decent, and didn't do too badly on the first rocky singletrack section. However, coming down a descent 15-20 miles in, I heard a loud pop and hiss as a sharp rock punctured the rear tire. I got the wheel off and found the hole, but it was too large for the sealant to get. As I was getting a tube in, 2 or 3 other people came down and punctured in the same place.

I got rolling again, and hit a long steep singletrack climb, where you could see 50 people ahead of you walking up the mountain. The walk seemed to take forever up to the top. Another fast descent full of rock gardens and off camber roots saw me down to the aid station at mile 45. I was a bit undernourished, as I had decided to roll with 3 bottles only for the first 45 miles, not expecting it to take me well over 4 hours to get there. As the race wore on, I was getting more and more frustrated as my legs would come and go and as the rocks continued to destroy my hands. I could make time on the climbs, and then immediately lose it all trying to come back down with my fingers feeling like they were breaking apart with every bump in the trail.

The last 30 or 35 miles turned into a painful slogging up and down the course to just get it done. I can't remember the last time I did a race where I was just completely over it mentally. After tons of mashing up climbs and bouncing down the rocky descents, I ended up finishing in 10:11, and couldn't have been happier to be done with it. Not really an ideal day, but you've got to take the bad with the good. At least the race had a great atmosphere and tons of food to smooth everything over. Maybe next year...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dirt Sweet Dirt

But its back to reality this weekend, as it's finally time for the Shenandoah 100. I'm super excited about this race, as everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) has been talking it up nonstop as the best endurance race and party of the year.

I'm back on the Rig again, so that should be a rockin good time. If things can come together, I'm hoping for a top 5 finish after being within a few minutes of one at the Cohutta. I haven't looked at the weather yet, but I'm about 95% sure it will rain... It always does. Heading out early tomorrow, so I should probably be typing less and actually start packing...

Roadie Racin

My day as a roadie ended up going pretty decently. Road races rarely excite me, but the River Gorge race in Chattanooga intrigued me as it ended with a 3 mile climb and summit finish. It turned out to be an awesome course, I would love to have that route as a training ride. Lots of rolling stuff, long steady climbs, short steep climbs, and a crazy fast 50 mph descent thrown in for good measure. The race went pretty much without incident, and I stayed in the top third away from the evil wind for the whole time.

When the climb started, I attacked and got a good gap on the field. No one followed at that point, but about a mile or mile and a half in one guy was pulling up towards me and caught me. We went back and forth for the rest of the climb, with me dropping him a bit and then him catching back up. He gained a good chunk of time on a 30+ mph descent before the last mile, as I was a bit sluggish getting over the big gears cresting the hill. I led the race until he caught me at the 100m mark and went around. The road sort of flattened out and he jumped with 50m or so to go and I just didn't have the legs to go, so I was left with a second place in the cat 5. 3rd was nowhere to be seen. I was sort of disapointed to lose it in the last 100m after leading the entire climb, but thats how it goes somedays. I could throw out a couple of excuses, but I think I'll just go with "I didn't make it to the top of the mountain fast enough" instead.

>Observation 1: Whats with the ginormous roadie numbers? The two numbers we had to wear took up about 60% of the real estate on my back... I could barely get into my pockets with the clutter. And apparantly that wasn't enough, so we had to have bike numbers on the seatpost as well...seriously? Do you want to go ahead and magic marker it on my calf and arms too?

>Observation 2: People do weird stuff. The race started with about 9 miles of flat rolling terrain, and one guy attacked and rode it all by himself... at about 300 yds in front of the group. There really wasn't any teamwork either. Another guy pulled by himself at 30-35 mph for almost 4 miles. I mean, thats awesome and all, but why do that to yourself? And we can't forget about the guy that got really pissed after getting DQed for crossing the yellow line... after getting 3 warnings. Not sure what he was going for there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Waiting for my Rocket

January is a long way away, but I'm already super excited about the newest addition to the stable.

Oooh, Horizontal Dropout Goodness

The rig has been such a great bike, I can only image how much better it will be in shiny carbon flavor and losing 2 pounds. I'm 95% sure it means that I can just drink more beer and still be the same speed, right? And having the classy 29er Crew paintjob will pretty much max out my style points as well. Only 5 months to go...

Monday, August 18, 2008


I could have sworn that Jeremy was out on vacation, but I keep seeing his car around town.

I think it's great that Jeremy has no problem showing his sensitive side. He says that the "poetry of the paint" is a "window into his soul." Whatever that means...

And if you think it looks good now, just wait til he gets around to getting the rainbow racing stripes done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fontana Night Train

The 2008 Night Train 12 Hour ended up being another good time. After last year’s course of 1200 ft of climbing in 5.5 miles, I was sure they couldn’t add any more climbing. Instead, I was greeted at registration with a new course profile showing 2400 ft of climbing in 9.3 miles. I had a good feeling about the race, as I couldn’t have asked for a course better suited to me. It kind of helps when you have to hold your bike and all your riding gear to break 145 lbs.

This year’s race started once again with a short lemans run. The run was sort of different, as we had to run/jump over all the bikes that were patiently waiting to be picked up. I had a sad moment on the run, as my bling finally bit the dust and broke. Perhaps I’ll write a strongly worded letter to express my disappointment that my 99 cents only bought me a mere 500 miles of offroad bling. So I was left with only the chain for the day. Jeremy Hargroves ended up being the first guy back to the bikes, while I was close enough to the front in 4th or 5th. The course went down a paved road for 100 yards or so before going straight up the steepest climb on the course. I ran the first steep section of the climb, and then middle-ringed it the rest of the way up. It only took middle-ringing it once to keep me in the granny gear every other time up it.

I managed to pass a team guy or two on the climb and was rewarded with some great rolling and twisty NC singletrack. The middle part of the course flowed really well and has some nice little rollers you can carry your momentum over. I totally forgot about a rock garden on a downhill section and took a horrible line through it going way too fast. I don’t know how I managed to stay upright, but I was super thankful my front teeth didn’t end up embedded in a big rock. After some more rolling, the climbing began again, this time with a long gradual climb (maybe 1.5 mile or so?) of doubletrack and fireroad sections. I was glad to see that most all of the climbing added was pretty much smooth and wide open. After reaching the top of the fireroad and getting up a short singletrack climb with switchbacks, it was time to not pedal for a bit and roll back down the mountain.

The new singletrack descent at the top was nice, and connected back to the trail from last year with the Lewellyn descent. This descent is really fast and super rocky, so it definitely bounces you around and does a nice job of making your fingers feel broken with the quickness. After reaching the bottom, all that’s left in the course is a mile or so of rolling singletrack, with 3 or 4 short steep climbs you can just power over. I rolled in for the first lap 2 minutes off of Jeremy. I was with him at the top of the climb, but he crushed me on the descent. I suspected he couldn’t hold that pace for long, as I was going a lot harder than I wanted to at the start.

I didn’t see him at all the next lap, but caught him at the top of the climb during the third lap. We rode together for a bit, and I dropped him a bit on a rolling climb, but he caught me again at the bottom of the Lewellyn descent. I was able to drop him soon after though, and never really saw him again. After this I was putting 4 or 5 minutes a lap on him, and we had both left everybody else way behind. Of course, I didn’t realize how much time I was gaining until 5 or 6 hours later, so I was still working harder than I probably had too. The climbs got more and more fun as the day went on, and the top 1/3 of my cassette was definitely coming in handy. Lewellyn continued to destroy my hands, and I had to double up the fingers on the brakes to make it down after the fourth lap.

The rest of the race went smoothly though, and the pit stops were hovering around 5-10 seconds. Dave and Mike from Infinit nutrition were on hand for the day and did a great job of keeping me fueled up. They were mixing up infinit all day for all the other racers to try as well. Infinit definitely kept me rolling well on the day, as my nutrition for the entire race was just 11 bottles of infinit and ½ a pack of clif bloks. So much simpler than juggling gels and e-caps and the like…

I almost had a nice boost of confidence when I was on my 10th lap and found myself in the bottom 1/3 of my cassette. I was thinking, man, my legs must feel great, I haven't been this far down my cassette in hours. And then I realized I was in the granny gear...

After getting some splits, I realized I only had to do 11 laps, so I was happy to grab the light and get the lone night lap over with. I rolled into the finish with 102 miles in 11:18, with over 26,000 ft of climbing. Definitely good to win a race, and the Superfly was smooth despite all the rocks. I felt surprisingly great the next day, with no soreness at all. If you're looking for a low-key race with a party atmosphere afterwards, the night train definitely fits the bill. Next up for me is an attempt at playing a roadie racer for a day, but then I’m back on the Rig for the Shenandoah 100.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Night Train Quick Stats

Miles: 102
Ride Time: 11:15ish
Climbing: 26,000+ ft

Definitely a tough course and a long day, but I had good legs and ended up winning by about an hour. Full report coming tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2008

All Aboard...

Racing returns this weekend with the Night Train 12 Hour race in Fontana NC, presented by none other than Infinit Nutrition. I'm not expecting an easy day, as last year's course had 1200 ft of climbing every 5.5 miles.

I did this race last year, and ended up in third, so we'll try to improve on that. This guy with the tree trunk legs actually won it. I still haven't figured out how that happened with all the climbing, but who knows... The funniest part of last year's race was definitely the start. Jeremy Hargroves got a little bit of a false start on the lemans run, and had a 10 or 15 ft gap when they actually started the race. We were supposed to run around the yellow tent, but no one could see the smaller blue tent behind. Jeremy turned the corner and got smacked down by karma for the head start and went down tangled in a tent line. I was quite entertained.

I've got the classic "run with one hand on the pockets" going on to keep my stuff in them.

The rest of the race went pretty smoothly. I started out in a hole, but ended the last lap only 4 minutes off the leader. I made the cutoff, but didn't go out for an additional one, as I figured bringing back 4 minutes in 5 miles probably wouldn't happen. But I'm excited about this year as the big wheels are going to be a huge advantage in the rocky mess that is Fontana. And after a month of not racing, I definitely feel rested and ready to roll. Should be good times...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

System Reboot

Well, so much for nationals...

After a nice allergic reaction (cause? no clue...) over the weekend that seems to be lingering, I've decided not to risk a 12 hour drive to Wisconsin on the hope that I'll feel good by Saturday. It's possible I might be good to go, but my memories of racing the Haw Ridge 12 hour last year slightly sick don't make me eager to try it again. I ended up with my only DNF of the year after dropping 20 minutes on my 4th lap and puking 3 times. I was looking forward to checking out Madison, as everyone I talk to tells me it is quite an awesome place. But I can't really justify the expense and time not knowing if I can even finish the thing, much less be competitive...

On the bright side, I'll actually get to race the Fontana Night Train 12 Hour next weekend. [Click the link to check out their excellent photo selection skills] With over 1000 ft of climbing every 5.5 miles, it's a course that suits me well. Definitely bringing the gears for that one though... And maybe I'll even do the Fools Gold 100 now. Perhaps...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Consistency is Key

A big part of 12 and 24 hour racing is being consistent. Setting a steady pace that you can handle is always a good idea to ensure that you stay strong and that you're not sitting on the side of the trail swatting moths away from your light at 3 in the morning. Knowing what to eat and drink, how much, and when to eat it keeps you fueled for the long haul. And rolling through the pits with the quickness every lap keep things moving as they should. Throw all this together and you get the added bonus of looking the same whether you've ridden for 2 hours or 20 hours.

Consistency is kind of one of those things that if you do it right, no one really knows you've done anything at all.

However, I often feel the need to flaunt my consistency. That's why I spend a lot of time practicing my positioning for when I go by the cameras. Head down 12 degrees, hands perched on the ergons, eyes focused on the terrain, bling .... umm, well, blinging. Now that's the kind of consistency you can't miss.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Soho Much Better

I decided to park the car back in January and have been commuting it ever since. The Trek Soho S has been my A to B rocket, and I couldn't be happier with it. The singlespeed is simplespeed, and the matte black is super sweet. Being able to spin on the bike is so much quicker and less frustrating than fighting traffic and burning gas. The greenway system in Knoxville keeps growing, which makes commuting even more convenient. I think the current tally is around 40 miles of greenways in the city, with plans for more. Although, you do have to watch out for the occasional but elusive Knoxville lemurs.

You don't want to see this, so whether you're heading to work, running errands, or just catching a flick, hop on the bike and give it a go. It's amazing how much better you feel spinning on the bike while everyone else is trapped in their cars. And who can complain about saving money and reducing greenhouse gasses? Join the pedal power revolution today.

On a side note, a great part of my commute to the U of T is always the 2 or 3 minutes I spend basking in the glory of the MovinCool. This little guy keeps our servers cool by shooting freezing cold air out at maximum velocity. According to the sticker, it cools at a rate of 24,000 btu/hour. I don't really know what the hell a british thermal unit converts to, but it sounds impressive… But anyways, this thing takes you from sweating to shivering in a minute flat… Ooooooh, yeah.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th O July

To celebrate the 4th, the local club team always has a big group ride and cookout, which always ends up being a nice tough ride and a great time. This year was no exception. There was a good crowd of 40 or so people rolling out at 9:00 am for either 35, 65, or 100 mile options. I decided to do the 65 to maximize my relaxation time, although I'm sure memories of the 100 from last year helped to make the decision for me. The 100 mile option adds a loop though the homestead development, which has some of the biggest and meanest climbs in east TN. I vividly remember weaving diagonally up one hill at 4 miles an hour in my 39x27 while the sun beat down on me and the top of the hill mocked me in the distance. Good times...

The ride went well, although the start was sort of stressful when my saddle slipped a mile in and rotated forward, and I had to stop to fix it and chase back to the group. As it always hits some nice roads in areas that I don't normally ride, the route is usually pretty fun every year. Lots of little rollers, a few bigger climbs, and some sweet views kept it interesting. The pace was good, and having Geri and Spencer decide to do the 65 made for some nice intervals trying to chase them down when they decided they wanted to ride.

After the ride, the club had a bbq/pool party. Hanging out and relaxing at the pool was definitely a great way to end the day. My lack of time in the sun definitely showed though, as I was left with the "neopolitan" tan of strawberry red shoulders, vanilla sleeves, and a chocolate biker's tan on the rest of my arms. It looks fantastic, let me tell yah... For Saturday, I had planned on doing the Rocky Top 100k, which combined my interests of riding bikes, eating pizza, and drinking beer quite nicely. However, I woke up at 7:00 am to a torrential downpour, and decided that riding in the pouring rain would probably be for amateurs. It eventually dried out though in the afternoon, so I still ended up getting a good ride in, and even got homemade pizza and beer later on. So overall a pretty sweet and relaxing weekend.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Black by Popular Demand

A lot of people seem to think it’s cool to tell me I don’t match. I mean, it's kinda close, right?

So for everyone distressed by my lack of color coordination, check it…

No more will you have to tell me that I can probably find some black shorts on chainlove.com or that the “light turquoise on the shorts doesn’t go with the cornflower blue on the jersey.” I mean, seriously, turquoise? Ladies, it’s clearly cerulean with a hint of malibu. Com’n…

But now that you can’t comment on that, you’ve got to fill that dead space in the conversation with something… I suggest: “Oh my god, Dave, ________”

You’re so fast.
Where did my inhibitions go?
Can I make you a sandwich?
Those big wheels are so manly.
Your arms are so huge.
Can I buy you a beer?

As always, ladies choice…

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dubya C

This past weekend while I was spinning for cowbells, the mountain bike world championships were held in Val di Sole, Italy. 4 time consecutive world champion Julien Absalon was going for 5, but didn’t make it happen. But his misfortune reminded me to dig some old photos out of the archives.

A little backstory: Back in the summer of 2005, I was touring around Europe a bit, and happened to be wandering around in Paris, and came across a bunch of expensive bikes lying around everywhere, as well as small crowds of spectators. Since I speak pretty much no French, it was difficult trying to figure out what was going on. After running into some Australian guys, I learned that it was part of a stage race. The course for the day was an individual time trial through the streets of Paris. Most of it was on cobbled streets with descents down stairs or ramps, and then climbing back up the short steep ramps between the stairs. It was pretty cool to watch the guys flying down stairs and whatsuch. The race ended at Sacre Coeur, the highest point in Paris.

This was back in the day when I had just purchased my first mountain bike a few months earlier (for riding on the pavement, of course.) I knew nothing about racing, barely knew what singletrack meant, and still thought xtr was impressive since a crank cost almost as much as my bike. But I had somehow managed to read or hear what the rainbow stripes meant. And so when I saw Absalon finishing the race all decked out with his rainbow stripes and shiny gold bike from winning the Olympics, I headed over to get a picture.

He was just hanging out at the finish, so I went up and motioned with the camera to get a picture. I said something to him in English and he just looked at me like I was a complete moron. Whatever, smile for the picture.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ring It

After skipping it last year due to racing too much, I finally got my cowbell fix this past weekend. In the past, the race has been held at the US whitewater center, but for whatever reason this year's race was held at Fisher Farms in Davidson, NC. The course only had 4 miles of singletrack, but included 3 miles of grass/field sections to increase the mileage. The singletrack was mostly tight, twisty and rooty, with quite a few techie sections of skinnies, rock gardens, bridges, log piles and the like. Overall, it was super flat, with only one short steep climb and 2 or 3 longer uphills. On a side note, this race is the only one in the southeast that has a "King of the Mountains" competition on the first lap. I just find it funny that the flattest course I've raced on crowns a king of the rollers.

Bling Bling... Also, something about this picture reminds me why I'll never be a good roadie.

The race was kind of tight at the start, as it was a mass start on the bikes with a downhill gravel road. It didn't exactly break things up. I had gotten a good spot near the front so traffic wasn't bad. Apparently, Dejay and Fuzzy were not at the race, and were just messing with Rich to psych him out. I couldn't complain. As I was discussing gearing at the start, Rich tells me he is running a 32x20 because the 32x18 was too big after preriding for a couple hours. Great, I was running the 32x18 and didn't even bother bringing additional cogs. As I didn't preride the course, the gear choice decision was running through my head for most of the first lap. My legs felt better than they have in the past weeks, but they still didn't have the top end snap in them. Surprisingly, the heat wasn't bad at all, with highs in the mid 80s or so. It even rained for a few minutes... although it was weird as the sun was still fully out as it rained.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. Just the usual ride in circles, drink some infinit, and stop when people wave their arms at you at the end and tell you you're done. I was in 4th for the first 5 or 6 hours, and then got bumped to 2nd when Rich and the roadie guy with the tree trunk legs slowed and dropped out. I saw Rich riding slowly through one of the field sections and finally passed him as he stopped to chat with the yazoo guys. That was the last shakeup in the placings for me, as I never really saw the soulcraft guy that won. Damn flatlanders. I needed another 500 ft or so of climbing per lap to have a chance. The 32x18 ended up being perfect, as I was never in danger of having to walk any climbs and wasn't too spun out on the rest of the course. Running the 20 would have definitely been a mistake. My legs felt best when climbing, and I was able to drop most of the pro guys with their fancy shifters going uphill. They could then of course resume crushing me on the flats and roots. With lightning and thunderstorms approaching, the race was ended half an hour early. I couldn't complain as I was locked into second and actually got to pack my stuff up in the daylight.

Moments after this shot was taken, I flexed my guns too and put him to shame but the camera missed it.

So overall, not a bad day on the bike to put down 112 miles in 10.5 hours and win not only money, but beer as well (and of course a cowbell also)... It's like they knew I was just going to spend the money on beer anyways. The geared guys were super fast on the day, and Tostado took the win with Nat Ross and Chris J rounding it out.

The golden ale is tasty, although, I'm not 100% sure on the kayaking turtle. I mean, let's be realistic here. If it was a turtle kickboxing or playing croquet or something, I could understand, but kayaking? Com'n...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back to One

With the Cowbell Challenge coming up tomorrow, I'm finally going to be back on the singlespeed for the first long race in almost two months. At least my thumbs can relax for 12 hours. The race is shaping up to be as much of a throwdown as the DSG, as Dejay, Fuzzy, and Dicky are all going to be representing in the singlespeed class.

Rumor has it the course can be run completely in the big ring, so we'll see if the pool cues of power are up for it... The legs have felt better the past few days, but who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Oh, and Rich, Fjear only works on people fatter than you... and you forgot my imposing bling to make up for my lack of kabush chops. Com'n!

Random Video of the Day:


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spin to (Not) Win

I would like to be able to say racing made a comeback this past weekend, but I can’t really back that one up. At least I got a nice training ride out of it…

Check out that number plate...

Since racing only one race a day is clearly for amateurs, I went for the double XC of the singlespeed and expert races at the local Haw Ridge XC race. However, my legs quickly let me know that they were not at all interested in racing at XC speed. So my singlespeed race instead turned into an endurance training ride. After finishing 2 laps of the 8 mile course, I had about 15 minutes or so to switch bikes and bottles for the expert race.

Well, I would have used that time to switch bikes if I had gotten around to bleeding my front brake on the superfly. So instead I rolled out for the expert race as the only singlespeeder. The ½ mile flat road start against the gearies quickly saw me spinning madly as everyone dropped me. I did manage to make it to the singletrack before 1 of the women who started about 15 or 30 seconds behind, but that was it. The course was pretty tough for Haw, as it went straight up one of the rockiest, rootiest, and loosest climbs in the entire park. That one definitely ended up being a walker all five laps.

After the bad legs at the start, I began to feel better with every lap. My laps were pretty consistent, with laps 2-5 all being within about a minute of each other. On the third expert lap, I finally started catching some other racers and managed to pass 3 people. I knocked out the 40 miles in right at 4 hours, so it wasn’t terrible for an endurance pace on the ss. I was pretty happy with that considering how tough the course was. As for results, I ended up with a pair of 3rd places, which sounds good until I point out I only had 5 other competitors between the two races.

Not really sure what happened to my legs. They had finally been feeling good for the past week, but apparently not good enough... Thats how it goes though somedays, everythings shiny, and then Bam!

And just like that, you're left with only the disco ball of broken dreams... Nothing else to do but pick up the pieces and roll with it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Random, but months ago I was out driving and saw the google street view car. I noticed yesterday that google finally updated the street view cities, and wasted the 20 minutes necessary to find myself. Dave 1, Productivity, 0. [I actually saw the street view car twice, but couldn't find myself in the other location]

Thats right ladies, it's got power windows

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Returns

Around Knoxville the temps have been ramping up quite a bit the past few days. I guess that means my tan lines are only going to get worse...

At least my legs finally feel like they're making a turnaround. With the local Haw Ridge XC race going on this weekend, I'll have a good chance to see if I'm back on form for the Cowbell coming up on the 21st. I'm interested to see what the course turns out to be, as the venue has changed since I last raced the cowbell. Rumor has it that laps are in the 6 mile range, so it sounds like it might be a bit of a hamster wheel.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Disc Burner

I guess next year I'll have to get a more dark beer friendly color for the glasses...

Well my first attempt at promoting a race is finally (almost) over. We had 54 solo riders and 10 teams come out. The heat was pretty oppressive, with afternoon temperatures staying in the mid to upper 90s. Without a single cloud in the sky, it definitely wore on the riders as the day went on. The race as a whole went well, and there were only a few minor snags. Some removed tape sent a few people an additional mile or so off course, and we had some minor timing issues that had to be resolved early in the race. We had a few racers with minor injuries, but everyone stayed hydrated enough that we didn't have heat exhaustion problems. The course itself was in perfect condition all day, and the racers put down over 3000 combined miles.

Promoting the race was a lot of work, but I definitely learned a good deal to improve on the race for next year. It was a strange feeling being on the otherside of a race like this. I almost feel like it's more work to get stuff ready to go sit in the sun for 12 hours than it is to race for 12 hours. I suppose thats what happens when you get used to surviving for 12 hours with only a tub of powder and some jugs of water.

A big thanks to all the racers, volunteers, and family that came out to the race. I hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to send me any comments, complaints, or suggestions for next year.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I was hoping to be back to good by this point, but my legs are still flat and I seem to feel tired all the time. The Burn has apparently taken its toll on my body. I suppose racing 325 miles off road in an 8 day period may have something to do with it. I'll start feeling better after an hour or so on the bike, but then my legs will just decide they don't want to put out any kind of power. Luckily I've only got one bigger race between now and nationals, so I should have almost two months to figure it out and get back to good. I'm kind of relieved to not be racing the Disc Burner, as I don't imagine it would go down well. I suppose I would be able to finish it, but competing when your only strength is a willingness to run yourself into the ground is probably frowned upon... unless you're Team Dicky, who would probably tell me to subtract three teeth from my rear cog and run a fixed gear for recovery...

Monday, June 2, 2008

One Week Gone

The recovery after a 24 hour race is never really good times. Usually it takes days and days before I can even think of getting back on the bike, but I was surprisingly not that sore at all. No bumps or bruises either, so that was nice as well. I took Monday off, and was back to commuting for the rest of the week and doing some recovery spins here and there. My legs were feeling good enough at the end of the week that I decided to put in a 3 hour ride on the rig on Saturday morning. This proved to be a pretty poor decision, as the leg strength has definitely not returned. Singlespeeding is not very friendly for recovery riding, and I felt like I would have needed a ginormous cog on the back to make it work. So I was instead left with lots of mashing and ridiculously slow climbing.

The Disc Burner is swiftly approaching, and I’ve got the fun week of making sure everything is going smoothly for that. I’m excited that the weather looks to be perfect. No rain for about a 6 or 7 day period with Saturday right in the middle of it. Accuweather even described the predicted weather for the day as “delightful.” So it will probably be a sort of hectic week again, but hopefully the day itself will go smoothly.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Swing Swing

Since it would be a shame to break tradition, I was awoken in my tent on Friday night by the sound of rain. Luckily the rain was light, and the trails were bone dry for the entire race. There wasn’t a single puddle of water or drop of mud at all. I had plenty of time to kill before the noon start, so I wandered around and chatted for a bit. I ended up pitting in the same place as last year. I was pitting with Florida's Chris Johns and Chris Janiszewski, and we were right next to Mark Hendershot and the pair of Daves from up north. It was kind of funny that we were all back and in the exact same spot as last year.

The race started with the hated “designated runner” lemans start. This meant that the team riders could have a team member running the ¼ mile loop in tennis shoes and then tag their team rider to start. For solos this is kind of lame, as you don’t want to sprint the run when you have 24 hours to ride, but you also don’t want to start behind 200 slower riders. The run wasn’t too bad in the end, and I was in the top 20 or so getting to the superfly. Coming up the first climb required some traffic control, and I rubbed a couple of wheels in the slowdown. The pace for the first lap was pretty mellow, and I rode the lap with Mark and Chris.

The second lap started well, but I was soon worried as my legs were feeling off already. My legs felt like I had already been riding for 6 or 8 hours, and I hadn’t even made it 10 miles. My back was aching a bit as well, and I began to have a bad feeling about the race. It was bad enough I even worried a bit about even being able to stay on the bike until it got dark. I fell back off the pace of Mark and the Chrises, and was passed by another solo rider. After another couple of laps, my legs warmed up and felt a bit better. My pits were going well, and with the handoffs I barely had to slow down at all to grab a new bottle and go.

The Burn course is quite nice, as you’ve got tons of berms, not too much climbing, and some pretty sweet descents. The last descent is especially cool, as it’s like a roller coaster with huge banked turns. I had forgotten about all the roots and rocks, as the course was definitely thrashing my hands out more than I would like. It flows pretty well, and is broken up nicely with rolling climbs and descents. Passing was tight on the first lap, but after that there were no problems. I managed to run over a black snake on the 5th lap or so. I kind of thought it was a moving root at the time and didn’t realize it was a snake until I ran over it. Temperatures were quite warm during the race, but it didn’t really bother me that much.

My legs were good until around 7 or 8 hours in, and then they began to feel toasted again. I was kind of bummed out, but knowing that a lot can happen at night, I figured I might still have a shot at a decent finish if I could just stay on the bike and ride all night. My hands were pretty trashed at this point as well. On every bumpy descent they were getting quite a shaking, and my fingers were once again killing me. I need to get this figured out, because I get the same pain earlier and earlier in every race I do… Damn you proximal phalanges…

I wasn’t so good at math on the day either. Grabbing my Moab light, with its supposed burn time of 8 hours on high, I headed off on my first night lap. I rode the first half of the lap with the light on medium, but didn’t quite think it was enough, so I switched back to high. Arm and knee warmers were quickly needed as the temperature dropped, and I began to think I didn’t bring enough warm clothing with me. Going with the theme of the day, my night laps were quite inconsistent, with my legs swinging from good to bad and back again every few hours. With all thoughts of a podium spot fading away, I was in “stay on the bike make it through the night” mode. At this point, I hadn’t had to use my front derailleur yet, so I decided that another goal would be to finish up the race without using anything besides the middle ring.

Dropping temperatures meant I couldn’t get down the full bottle of infinit every lap, and I was down to drinking a little under half a bottle a loop. To get the rest of my calories, I stopped in the pits for about 2 minutes every lap to eat a pair of clif bloks, drink some burn, and complain about being cold. I had an interesting experience a little before 4 am, when my battery ran out. Luckily I was on the last climb of the course, and the moab has backup LEDs. Even with next to no light I was able to pass a few people on the climb, and began the final descent back to the transition. I was quickly caught by another rider who was kind enough to slow down a bit and light the way. I quickly swapped the lights and headed back out. My hands sort of leveled off during the night and the pain sort of dulled as the hours went on, so that was a nice bonus.

At this point, the temperature really started getting to me. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was probably around mid to low forties. Every lap also had a big open section for ½ mile or so that received a nice cold breeze from the lake to chill me out even more. I was in summer wear with arm and knee warmers, and my teeth were literally chattering every time I went through that section and on some of the descents. My lap times had a huge drop as I couldn’t get or stay warm at all. Finally the sun came back out around 6 am and I was able to ditch my light and hope for it to warm up. However, by 8 am, it felt like the temperature hadn’t gone up at all. I even stopped for 5 minutes in transition to sit in the sun like a lizard to try and get warm. After that, I felt ok until I took about 6 pedal strokes and was chilled immediately.

Luckily it warmed up a little after 9 and I was able to ditch the arm warmers. I finished my 25th lap around 10 am, and checked the results to see if I had to do another lap. Once again, my math skills failed me, as I was convinced I couldn’t move anywhere in the standings if I quit then. Apparently this was wrong, as Virginia Trek rider Shawn Tevandale was able to ride for another 2 hours or so and finish another lap and bump me back to 5th place. Oh well, 5th and 4th are the same as 40th at the burn, so it wasn’t too big of a deal.

So despite a sub-par performance, I can’t help but come away from the race relatively satisfied. I made it through the night, finished in the top 5, and rode almost 190 miles. My nutrition went well, and I wasn’t really hungry or too tired during the race. No stomach problems, no cramps, no mechanicals. With the exception of my legs, everything went really well for the race. Congrats to Chris Johns pulling off the win in his first 24 hour race, definitely impressive. Mark put in a solid consistent ride but finished up about a half hour back of Chris. Javaun Moradi rounded off the podium. I knew at the start that Javaun would be a guy to watch, as I raced against him at Conyers a few years back and he rode really strong there. I was ahead of him for about 8 hours or so until my legs started to hate me again. Chris Janiszewski was riding strong but had some stomach problems 12 or 13 hours in. Many thanks to the Chris' Dads, they definitely did a great job of making sure I got out of the pits quickly and had what I needed. The drive home was awful though. Even with all the burn I still had to stop 3 times on the 3 hour drive to stretch or try and catch a few minutes of sleep. Since I won’t be racing the disc burner, it seems like I’ve got almost an entire month until I race again… Looks like actual training might make a comeback.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


What a long weekend...

The Burn 24 Hour race was a great time, even though it didn't really go as I hoped. The day was definitely full of extremes for me, with my legs, lungs, and motivation swinging from highs to lows and back again all day. But I kept the pedals turning and didn't stop, and ended up finishing the day in 5th. I was actually in 4th but apparently can't do math after 22 hours on the bike. Endurance driving after the race was a questionable decision, but 32 oz of burn kept my eyes open enough to make it home. Onward to finding some time to chill and relax for a few days...

Apparently I subconciously choose my beer to match my bikes... who knew?

Monday, May 19, 2008

3 Equals 2

With an 11:00 am start time and only a 2 hour drive, I was able to get a good nights rest and didn’t have to get up too early to make the race. I arrived at Tsali around 9:30, and dropped all my stuff off at the transition. This year the transition area was in the parking lot, which was a huge improvement over its former location. In previous years, getting things to the pit area required carrying everything a ¼ mile up a fireroad, which was not so much fun. As I was preparing my stuff, I noticed something quite odd. There was this strange blue stuff all over the sky. I didn’t know what to think, I’m only used to seeing grey and black. I brought the Rig and the Superfly, and wasted probably 10 minutes looking back and forth at them trying to decide which one to ride first. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, but I finally settled on rolling one lap on the singlespeed to see how muddy it was.

The race started with a lemans run up the ¼ mile fireroad. I managed to be the 6th or 7th guy to the top in spite of my retarded looking running style wobbling back and forth with both hands on my jersey pockets to keep them full and my bling swinging wildly. The 32x20 was decent for most of the fireroad climb, but every time it flattened out or turned down I was losing tons of time. I was slightly spun out on the middle sections of the course, but it wasn’t too bad. The climbs were really fast by necessity, and I was beginning to think that maybe the ss was not so much a good idea. Since Tsali doesn’t drain, the course was still super muddy. Lots of nice mudholes all over the course made sure that cold brown water was flung on you 5 or 6 times a lap. The final flat section made up my mind on the bike selection, as I was once again spun out. Tsali is just an odd combination of long moderately steep climbs and fast flat/slightly downhill sections, and I was rarely comfortable with my gearing. There really aren’t many chances to make use of your momentum either. Although, it would probably be perfect with a front derailleur and some chainrings to 3x1 it.

I kept seeing Chris throughout the first lap until we hit that flat section at the end. At this point I felt like I was going backwards, and I was passed by another solo rider. Hopping off the rig, I grabbed a bottle and was on my way with the superfly. I quickly passed the solo guy who had gone by me halfway up the fireroad climb. The superfly felt so much better for this course, and I didn’t have to thrash out my legs trying to turn it over all the climbs. This also gave me a chance to really compare the two bikes riding them one after another at race pace. The superfly is definitely a little snappier coming out of the corners and a bit softer of a ride on the bumps. 6 laps in, time was flying by, pits were quick, and the legs were good.

However, it wasn’t to be. Not sure if it was going harder than I should have on the SS the first lap or my nonexistent training week with finals after DSG, but after my 7th lap I was definitely not feeling it anymore. But with 5 or 6 hours of riding left, the only option was to just roll with it and hope no one got close enough to make me work. The next few laps felt like they took forever, but every lap completed was 11 miles closer to being done. I was down to drinking only half a bottle a lap at this point, which is generally frowned upon when 100% of your race calories come from the bottle. After 2 and a half night laps, I finished up the race in 2nd place with 130-something miles. The night laps were quite cold, and I was shivering profusely even after I stopped to get my arm warmers. It looks like the third time was the charm after all for the 12 Hours of Tsali.

Knee warmers and socks are 70% of a pair of pants, right?

Congrats to Chris on his win, he definitely had the better legs on the day. I suppose if things had gone a little better for me we might have actually had a race, but that’s how it goes sometimes. A big thanks to Cory Rimmer for helping me out in the pits filling bottles and lubing drivetrains. He thought he could just say hi during the race and walk away, but I put him to work instead. Surprisingly, the drive back wasn't too bad, and I managed to make it back to Knoxville by a little after 3:00. I’m looking forward to this week for a nice easy recovery week of spinning to try and get ready for the Burn 24 hour race on the 24th.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Geared Up

I've made the decision to bring out the gears for the first time this season for the Tsali 12 Hour. This is actually going to be the first race ever on the Superfly, so thats kind of exciting, I suppose. Clicky Clicky. I imagine thats how it goes anyways. We'll see if I get halfway through the race and realize I've only used 2 or 3 gears.

What's this? A race without rain? That just doesn't seem right. I guess I'll have to get by on staying dry and riding high on the superfly...

Ooh, So much rhyming potential with 'fly'... But I won't be "that guy."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


It is time once again for the 12 Hours of Tsali. I've done this race twice already, with mediocre results each time.

Two years back, it was the second 12 hour I ever attempted. Of course it rained as the race started, and I still had no idea what the hell I was doing in the longer races. Tsali is a sloppy mess when it is wet, so I won't say it was enjoyable. The rain stopped an hour or two in, and the rest of the afternoon was cloudy skies with intermittent thunder. It was kind of odd though, as halfway through the race they made everyone stop due to a severe weather warning, but it didn't even sprinkle. So after another lemans start, we were back at it again. Once it got dark, the rain started pouring again, and the trail was lit up every few minutes by a flash of lightning. Despite having time to do another lap, I called it a day and finished around 8th place.

[Writing about the mud of two years ago reminded me of one of my favorite Tsali moments, which occured during the horrendous conditions of the 2007 SERC race. I'm sure anyone who was there remembers how bad the trails were and how destroyed their bikes were afterwards. The bike shops should have to give kickbacks to goneriding for all the brake pads they sold. But anyways, I had caught up to one of the expert women just in time to watch her slide out in a corner and land in a 6 inch deep puddle of muddy water. As she picked up her bike, there was a sucking sound and then a plop. Looking at the bike, the grip on the left side of the bar was gone. We sort of looked at the bar, then the puddle, then gave each other the universal WTF look. One of the funniest random race moments I've experienced... She declined to attempt to fish the grip out of the muck.]

Last year's race was only slightly better. Due to some problems with trying to get our bikes onto the rack and having to call random people at 6am to try and borrow a hitch rack, we made it to the venue only 25 minutes before the start. Trying to get dressed, registered, and get my stuff together at bunny speed was not really how I wanted to start the day. At least it didn't rain. As there were about 15 knoxville people doing the race and offering support, I figured I wouldn't have any problems with getting my bottles filled and minimal support duties taken care of. So with the same lemans start up the gravel road, I hopped on and plunged into the dusty cloud that filled the entire course for the first lap. It took about 3 laps for my eyes to finally flush out the dust and feel normal again, it was quite ridiculous. As I was coming through transition, I kept noticing that my empty bottles I tossed down were not getting refilled, and as I switched bikes, chains were not being cleaned/lubed. I was sort of confused as to why nobody was helping me, but didn't think too much of it.

I was a little more worried when I grabbed my last mixed bottle 5 hours in. Luckily, when I came through the next lap, Mark had just started mixing me up a new batch so I was able to just grab it and go instead of mixing my own. After a few more unmotivated laps and wasted time in the pits cleaning chains and minor repairs, I started thinking about the burn 24 hour race that was coming up the next week, and decided to just hit 100 miles and call it a day. Accomplishing that, I packed my stuff up and headed down to where the knoxville crew was camped. I was kind of bummed out at the lack of support. I have no problem racing unsupported, but I usually like to know that going into the race, not finding out in the middle.

At the campsite, Abby greeted me with a "How was your sandwich?" I gave her the raised eyebrow and look of confusion. "The sandwiches I made you, how were they?" It turned out that Abby had been supporting my competition and neighbor in the pits all day. She found his nutrition stuff and made him sandwiches, mixed up bottles, etc... So random, but it made for a good laugh after another forgettable day at Tsali.

So, back to the present... The third time is gonna be the charm. I'm still sort of indecisive on what I'm doing for the race. Options are:

1. Race open with the neglected pile of carbon in my corner.
2. Race open on the Rig, being "that guy".
3. Race the SS class with the Rig.

Looks like I've got til 11:59:59 tomorrow...hmm...

Friday, May 9, 2008

The big show has finally come and gone again. Only 359 more days until the next DSG… Sigh… This year’s race started, as all my races seem to, with a healthy thunderstorm the night before. The rain stopped an hour or two before the race though, so at least I didn’t have to get my things ready in the rain.

The race started with a lemans start again. I made it through the whole run without repeating last years “slip n slide” incident. Apparently that was not forgotten, as Jeremy mentioned it before the start and a handful of people around remembered me as “that guy.” I made it through the field section without incident, and started passing people as we hit some of the doubletrack climbs. The mud was horrendous. I hate to be the guy that says “and that was the worst __________ ever.” But it was without doubt the worst mud I have ever experienced. I got to experience the thrill of trying to push a bike up a hill, and having the wheels stop turning completely due to the amount of sticky mud. The clearance on the rig fared better than most though, as I passed 4 or 5 people with immobile wheels before mine finally stopped. Mr. 24 himself managed to snag the picture that I think best shows the conditions of the day:

Descending in the muck was definitely interesting. Coming down the back side of 911 hill was super shady the first lap. It was pretty much just sliding sideways and praying the bike turned enough to keep you out of the trees. There was one other doubletrack descent that was pretty bad as well. I figured a ton of people had wrecked there when I came by for the second lap as there was a small crowd of people there watching people descend. As I slid sideways and barely made it down upright, there was a collective “aww” of disappointment. The second lap was better, but still extremely sloppy. By the third lap though, things had dried off enough that things weren’t too slippery and the wheels spun freely.

I was keeping a pretty steady pace while downing a bottle and a half of infinit every lap. I cannot say enough about how good the infinit stuff is. Check it out, it is the real deal for sure. During the second lap, I had caught Jake Kirkpatrick, but then he took off right as I caught him. It was weird though, as the next lap, I caught him in the exact same spot, and went by and never saw him again. This put me in third place, where I stayed for most of the race. Dejay and Fuzzy were gone from the start and were unfortunately out of reach. From this point on the course was in perfect condition. The next 4 laps went without incident, and I began to calculate the number of laps I needed to do to finish. I actually got a nice mental boost when I forgot I was on eastern time and realized I had one less lap than I thought I did. It's weird how I can do all these laps and remember nothing about them... As I sit here I can't really remember anything specific about a big 6 or 8 hour chunk of the race.

On my 7th lap, Greg Martin caught me, but I soon passed him back as the course turned uphill. At this point I was ready to start increasing the tempo to finish off the last two laps. However, coming down 911 on the 8th lap, I punctured the rear tire. I spun the tire to get the sealant rolling around, and CO2ed it. Air still gushed out of the too big to seal hole. I just couldn’t believe it as I saw my pro podium chances at the greatest event on my race calendar deflated. 3 or 4 minutes later, Greg came by, and I never saw him again. I’m sure there’s no bigger boost of energy or cure for cramps than seeing your competition with a mechanical in the late stages of a race. After begging a CO2 I was back in action, but the whole affair cost me 10 minutes or so. I XCed it for the remainder of the lap and even caught back up to Nat, who had gone by as I was fixing the flat. Nat was kind enough to pull me through all the flat sections where I was spun out. I did a quick light switch and continued on at high pace until I hit the first big climb. ¾ of the way up, my legs were killing me, and I had to back off to make sure I finished the lap. I toasted myself the 8th lap after that flat and didn’t have quite enough to finish at full XC speed. This left me with a 4th place finish in the pro singlespeed.

I can’t say I’m not once again a bit disappointed to lose this one in the final stages. But it definitely gives me some more confidence as I start hitting the smaller regional races this month. I beat all the amateur guys, geared and SSers, and the list of guys in the pro cats that beat me is pretty much a who’s who list of endurance superstars in the US. Onwards…

Well, maybe I should at least take solace in the fact that I can claim the record for the most expensive flat ever ($500)… I need to figure out if I'm gonna really commit to this whole SS thing though. I could have used a second bike to swap out with all the mud and whatsuch...

But the rest of the Knoxville crew fared well, with Jeremy taking 1st in the amateur solo, Abby and Derek taking 3rd in the amateur duo, and the Knoxville team of Josh Reed, Jacob Prater, Andrew Howe, and Mike Biegalski winning the amateur team class. Congrats to all!

And I got to meet the man himself. Gary is without doubt an interesting guy, and his passion for bikes is impossible to miss. It’s kind of a cool feeling to meet the guy whose name is on your bike (and every piece of your clothing.)

Oh, and Gary says park the car and get on your bike.