Sunday, April 27, 2008

After the race, I enjoyed a rocking bbq dinner and a few pints of the good stuff. The schwag raffle was pretty crazy, with 4 or 5 frames and complete bikes raffled off, as well as a ton of other stuff. Jeremy scored some Surly singlespeed hubs, while I won a pair of size large freeride shorts. After the raffle, they just flung tons of random bike goodies into the crowd, including everything from grips to bottles to lube to chains to CO2 kits to sandals. That’s right, CO2 kits and chains… Plenty of cursing thrown about as people risked bodily injury trying to catch a chain or other heavy object flying through the air at rapid speed. After the excitement of the schwag toss, we helped Ross finish packing all the stuff back up, and laughed at his apparent inability to perform the simple task of mixing warm pedialyte with chilled saline before adding drink mix and then diluting it with water but not forgetting to have the sliced apples in the plastic cups and the potatoes in the paper ones and the pills in the tray organized by color and then size… COLOR AND THEN SIZE, Damnit Ross, can’t you do anything right?

For whatever reason, we decided to head on back to Knoxville that night. The drive itself was uneventful, and we made it back to Jeremy’s house around 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. I would rate the tiredness level as “deathly.” After a quick shower to rinse the half inch of dust and grime off of my entire body, I settled down on the couch to get some well deserved sleep.

That’s where the story should end. But with less than an hour of sleep down, Jeremy’s cell phone alarm goes off. It turns out that the days are cyclical, and 5:00 am comes around again. I can’t even describe the level of disorientation involved in trying to find that damn phone to get it to stop making noise. Five minutes later, I finally find it in the kitchen under some papers, and get it to shut the hell up. I get back to bed and immediately fall asleep. However, at 6:00 am, Jeremy’s dog, Boogie, decides that he needs to whine…extremely loud. Boogie fails to respond to me yelling from the couch for him to “stop whining.” “Go to sleep dog” and “shut the hell up” are met with an equal amount of success. After guessing he probably needs to go to the bathroom, I yell at Jeremy and Abby in the next room. “Jeremy.” “Abby.” “Boogie.” “Bathroom.” … No response. After 2 more repeats of this, I hear:

Jeremy: “Did you hear something?”
Abby: “Is that Dave?”
Jeremy: “Is he talking?”
Abby: “I think he said Boogie.”
Jeremy: “Eh… I’ll deal with it in the morning.”
Dave: “…SIGH…”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rewind: DSG 2007, Part 2

This fine gentleman fired a shotgun to start the race... Welcome to Fayetteville

I didn’t grow up on a farm. Maybe if I had, I would have known that fields have holes in them… big holes. I made it about 10 steps, and then my right foot went down in a 2 foot deep hole. Instantly, I was on the ground and sliding down the wet hill like it was a slip n slide. Fifteen seconds in, and I’m already “that guy.” 10 or 20 feet later, I was able to stop the slide and get back on my feet. I even managed to make it the rest of the way to my bike without incidence. After catching back up to Jeremy on the gravel road, we were soon joined by another rider, who for the sake of anonymity will be named “JT.” JT recognized me from a XC race earlier in the season, so we were greeted with a hearty “Hay thar Bike Zoo.” JT was quite the little conversationalist. Jeremy and I were sort of breathing hard on the first few climbs, and JT’s conversation never even paused, he’s got some lungs. Half an hour and around 500 “uh-huhs” later, Jeremy took off, and left me with JT. Jeremy underestimates my sneakiness. I made it ten minutes before I turned around and told JT that I wasn’t feeling well, and that he should go ahead by me. In the open field starting the second lap, Jeremy soon heard, “Hay Bike Zoo, I’m coming, I’ll be up thar in second.” And then JT sprinted away up to catch Jeremy. What’s that I hear? Nothing…

The race itself was quite rough, with 3 major climbs that required the granny gear after only a lap or two. The course was a good mix of rocky doubletrack, wide-open fields, and twisty singletrack. Even with the full suspension, it was beating me up after a few hours. Jeremy and I settled into second and third in the amateur. I never really felt great, and Jeremy was putting a minute or so a lap onto me. At least I was pulling away from the guy in fourth. The last hill on the course was especially painful. Even in the granny gear, it was just steep and rocky enough to bring the hurt after a few laps in. About halfway through, I finally started gaining a bit on Jeremy and began trying to pull back the 10 minutes or so he had on me. About this time, we saw JT lying in a truck on the side of the course. “You OK JT?”… “I don’t feel so good; I should’ve eaten more than water and bananas.” Yea, that’s probably a safe bet.

I finally caught a break with 2 laps left when Jeremy got a flat, and I went by him as he was fixing it. Knowing Jeremy’s XC speed, I gunned it, and hoped to never see him again. This worked for a little over a lap. And then it happened… As the course doubled back on itself, I looked over and saw Jeremy coming up on me, and he was only about 30 yards back. Apparently the expletives that immediately slipped out of my lips were more audible than I thought, as Jeremy’s head snapped up instantly and he saw me. So we both took off, but Jeremy caught me as I went down trying to cut a corner too sharp on the descent. The rest of the course was open flats along with the one bad climb. I was able to bridge the gap on the flat, and luckily Jeremy had toasted himself catching up to me, so he didn’t even jump on my wheel when I went by. I put a minute or two on him in the last mile and finished up the race in second.

66.67% SCO Podium

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rewind: DSG 2007, Part 1

Since I'm super excited about Dirt, Sweat, and Gears coming up at the first of May, I've decided to recount the journey of last year's race...

More Cowbell?

So I finally convinced Jeremy to do a 12 hour solo race. To get him to register, it took months of talking it up along with many a disparaging comment in regard to his sexual orientation and a constant questioning of the existence (or lack there of) of his male reproductive system. So off we rolled towards Fayetteville, TN. After a possibly scenic drive of perhaps between 1 and 6 hours, we arrived at the historic cotton mill preserve. We went to the registration tent to pick up our hefty swag bags containing a pint glass, socks, t-shirt, cowbell, and other random goodies. I of course didn’t check the size of my shirt until the next week and ended up with a large…sweet! Afterwards, we set up our tent along with Ross Spence, support crew to the stars.

Our camp ended up being right beside Nat Ross, who is the endurance king of the big wheeled Gary Fisher crew. After grilling some burgers, which at the time were of course the greatest thing I had ever eaten, we hopped back in the car to head to Wal-Mart for survival supplies. Apparently, when it gets dark in the middle of nowhere in April, it gets cold…really cold…who knew? After getting a few things to stay warm, we pitched the tent and settled in. Since the race started early at 8:00 am, we set the alarm for 5:00 am to ensure we had plenty of time to get ready, eat, and get organized. For absolutely no reason whatsoever, I say again, Jeremy set the alarm for 5:00 am.

After being woken up way too early by the digital cacophony of Jeremy’s cell phone, we got dressed and headed off to consume the bountiful goodness of pancakes and sausage that were provided. The temperature was warming up nicely, so I was able to start the race in full-on summer wear. Since it was a lemans start, we dumped the bikes off at the bottom of a grassy hill in the field. I was racing my pair of ProCalibers, while Jeremy brought his Tanasi hardtail and his NRS full suspension. Ross volunteered to help us out in between his duties as the crewman of DeJay and Fuzzy (fast SS guys). As the time was ticking away, we lined up in the field to await the run start. Jeremy decided he wanted to be in the photos, so he moved to stand beside Tinker before the start.

The field in the field

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cohutta 100 Recap

The Cohutta 100 started off on a great note, as we awoke to pouring rain on our tent at 2:30 in the morning. Luckily, the rain stopped around 6:00 as we were getting up, so we at least started the race dry. I rolled up to the start and got a spot around 30 riders back or so.

1 The race started with a 3 mile paved road climb to mix up the field. By the time everyone who started in front of me started rolling, I was 2 groups back from the Eatough peloton of 15 or 20 people that had formed up ahead. I didn't push it on the climb, but quickly passed the 2 groups and found myself a few hundred yards back of the front group. I should have been more aggressive and bridged the gap, but my brain was in enduro mode. Stupid brain... The brush creek singletrack wasn't in too bad of condition, and I managed to pass a few more gearies in the woods and on the paved descent down to old copper road. After about 30 miles or so, the singletrack ended and the fireroad of forever began.

2 Although people had told me the fireroad was steep, I had just shrugged it off, thinking it couldn't be that bad. I was definitely wrong. Most of the grades I was comfortable enough to spin, but they definitely wore on you as the hills just kept coming. It seemed like you were climbing forever. The "rollers" at the top of the plateau were probably the most painful because they were super steep and just kept coming at you. The fireroad was nice and sticky in most places, so it kind of bogged you down climbing. I wasn't aggressive at all on the descents, as there were lots of slick places and sliding gravel going on coming down. The big descent was a mixed blessing, as my back wasn't enjoying being in the roadie tuck for extended times.

3 After the big descent, there was a nice 10 mile flat section. This would have been awesome on gears, but it was pretty miserable on the SS. All you could really do is spin up, and then get in the roadie tuck and coast until you slowed down enough to get resistance on the pedals and spin back up. It was a weird mountain biking experience of looking over you shoulder hoping to see a geared guy who was going at the right speed so you could latch on and let them pull you up the road without getting dropped. This section ended with a turn off that quickly became two long steep climbs in succession.

4 I was so excited to finally hit the singletrack. The forever fireroad had definitely lost its charm, if it ever had any at all. My legs felt great, and I caught a few more gearies as I made my way up the first singletrack climb. Things were flowing nicely through the quartz loop and another connector heading up to the final descent down thunder rock. By this time in the day, the trail conditions were pristine. After thunder rock, all that remained was the long road section back up to the whitewater center. I tried to hang on to a geared guy who caught me on the road, but was way too spun out.

I rolled over the line with a time of 8:22:08. I was pretty excited about it until I realized that I was only 20 seconds off the podium and exactly four minutes off of Floyd Landis. Beating Floyd on a singlespeed would have been the stuff of legend... I guess there's always Shenandoah or maybe Fool's Gold to give it another shot. My nutrition planning ended up working perfectly, as I felt strong only drinking 7 bottles of Infinit and eating 1 pack of clif bloks for the whole race. I must have looked strong, as no one tried to convince me to eat a sandwich.

The singlespeed ended up being a good choice, and the 32x20 was perfect. I couldn't have pushed anything bigger up those fire road climbs. Overall it didn't really cause massive pain or suffering as expected, so I will probably do alot more of the longer stuff on the Rig. Being so close is definitely going to get me fired up to be more aggressive in these events. I didn't start far enough in the front and missed the lead group in the woods, and then I finished the race like I had more laps to do instead of going XC style and finishing with nothing left. Maybe I'll learn something from the experience...

Congrats to Rachel Apking, Andrew Howe, Jason Stephens, Greg Casteel, and Jen Smelser on their 100 mile finish, and to Phillip Burgess, and Jeremy Chandler on the 65. Jeremy was towing a bob trailer up all those steep hills, so I'm sure he had a fun day. Looks like Mark Morgan had a good 35 race as well, finishing just off the podium.

Apparantly due to the SS winner supposedly getting extra feeds/support on the course, he has been DQed, which bumps me to 9th in SS. I can now complain about being 15 seconds off the podium instead of 20 seconds... It doesn't really feel any better. Looks like I was around 35th or so in the overall, not too shabby. Hard to tell what really happened, but it's kind of odd to DQ the guy when he won by over ten minutes for getting extra water bottles.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ready to Roll

The past week has been sort of a scramble of riding when I can and making sure everything is dialed in for the Cohutta. I had to work at the RZO on saturday and couldn't get away, so I was only able to squeeze in a short ride. It was a good workout though, as the wind in south knoxville was ridiculous. Sunday's ride started as the Tom Floyd road ride, but the combination of 45 degree weather, wind, and rain had everybody questioning the route. After some indecision upon reaching Walland, Jay Nevans and I headed on out to Weirs Valley and came back down Metcalfe. We got back to Tom's house after about 95 miles. It was a good ride in spite of the rain and cold, as I got to ride some roads I don't normally hit. I like how I can now complain about the "miserable cold" of 45 degrees when I would have killed for 45 degrees a month or so ago...

I'm most of the way through getting my Cohutta gear ready. I tend to travel pretty light, so this is probably most everything except for some extra civilian clothes. I'm excited to be riding the Rig for the first time in a longer event. I finally got my gearing switched over to the 20, but not without a bit of a struggle. Due to some shoddy manufacturing (I mean, WTF, WTB), I had to file the edges of the teeth for the chain to clear smoothly. I usually try to refrain from applying my ghetto engineering skills to my bikes, but sometimes there isn't a choice. But after a shakedown ride at the ridge last night, everything seems to running smoothly. I think the 20 will be a good choice. We'll see after 100 miles anyways. Tires have been swapped to the Dry-X, which will be rolling nice and fast on the fireroads. The 100 mile format is new to me, and is going to be interesting. The distance is just another day at the office, but the drop format is going to require some planning. I'm used to having total control over what I drink/eat every hour, and with the lap races mechanicals are not as much of a worry. So I'll be carrying a little more than I usually do, and hoping I space my drops correctly to have enough to drink.

Apparently, I am a sucker for free stuff. I was going through my box o gels and things, and found 16 packets of the trial size endurolytes... Kind of ridiculous...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Off, On, and Off Again

Last week saw my riding time greatly diminished, as I had to take 5 exams for school within three days. Good times, right? The timing actually ended up being good though, as it rained nearly every day last week. I was finally able to get out on the road on Saturday. Even better, I managed to pick a good window and dodged all the rain. Being back on the road was a strange feeling, as the dry weather the previous weeks had me trading the skinnies for the fatties at every opportunity. I had planned to do the Tsali SERC race, but the week of rain made for an easy decision to avoid it.

Sunday made for an even better day on the road, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s. I love this time of year. It's that turning point where I don't have to complain about how my body decides my appendages don't need blood anymore or have to worry about my shins turning red because I convince myself I'm too cool for full leg warmers. And it's not yet so oppressively hot that you're soaking wet 10 minutes into a ride or unzipping everything and still melting on all the climbs. Pretty soon I won't even have to think about what to wear. I'll have to figure some other way to waste the 20 minutes I spend before every cool weather ride agonizing over what to wear. For some reason, what I think I should be wearing changes completely with every 5 degrees or so of temperature change. But, thoughts of spring aside, the road ride was quite nice, with a scenic trip out through south Knoxville to Walland, and then a nice climb up Happy Valley and Flats Road, and then back down the parkway. Whoever named Flats Road def has a since of humor, as the grades hit 20% in places.

I wonder which knee got to meet my stem...

A few days of dry weather saw me back on the mountain bike on Tuesday at IC King. The trails were in great condition, all things considered. The ride went well until I broke my chain on the Rig and my right knee got to meet my stem/bars at high speed. Luckily I didn't have too long of a hobble out of the woods. After some serious icing and a good night of sleep, the knee was much better, so hopefully that will all be back to 100% before the Cohutta. Tonight's quick ride on the boulevard wasn't too painful spinning, but I could definitely feel it if I tried to put any real power into the pedals. Looks like I'll be taking it pretty easy for a few days.

In team 29er news, the new jerseys have arrived. Pretty darn sexy if you ask me. (Not that you did, but I'm pretty sure you would have...95...)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Eat a Sandwich

12 hour races are usually a great place for randomness. Back in the summer of 2006, I headed over to Charlotte, NC for the Cowbell Challenge 12 hour race. This was my third solo 12 hour, so I was just beginning to get the hang of racing for extended periods of time. I suppose I can tend to look a bit skinny at times, but I assure myself it’s barely noticeable. The 12 hour was going without too much excitement, it was just super hot, and the exposed clay climbs were excruciating under the burning sun. About 8 hours in, I passed another rider, and he immediately exclaimed, “Man, you’re skinny.” I thought it was kind of weird, but I gave him the “Thanks, I guess.” So there was a bit of pause, and then he says, “You’re really skinny… Are you hungry? You should eat a sandwich. I’ve got a sandwich my wife made me in my pocket. I’ll give it to you if you’ll eat it.” I declined, but found the randomness of the entire exchange pretty funny.

Do these pictures really make you want to feed me?

So I’m sure the question you’re now asking yourself is, “If I bring Dave a sandwich, will he eat it?” There’s only one way to find out… oh, and hold the onions.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


With Columbia being a little under 3.5 hours away from Knoxville, and the singlespeed race starting at 10:30 central time, we figured leaving at 7:00 eastern time would give us more than enough time to get to the race. After Jeremy called me at 6:50 to let me know he had just woken up, we finally got rolling around 7:30. The drive over was pretty uneventful, until our directions ended in the middle of the highway around 10:00 CT. We called some fellow knoxvillians to see what their directions said, and ended up backtracking almost 30 miles to get to the park. We turned into the park around 10:28.

Seeing the time crunch coming, I had changed clothes in the car and got my gear together as best I could. On arrival, I jumped out of the car, got the bike off the rack, and headed to the start/finish, hoping my tires had air in them. As I climbed up to the registration, I could see the singlespeed field coming down the road to drop down into the field. Great, first race of the year, and I get to play catch up. I went on up to the registration, and managed to get my number and timing chip with only minimal difficulty. By the time I got the number plate and chip on and got to the start line, the 19-29 Sport and the 30-39 Sport had both gone off. I figured the 5 minutes I gave up would be tough to pull back, but I took off to get as much time back as I could. After a few minutes I had managed to catch up to the back of the 30-39 and started passing through the traffic. The course was really sloppy at this point, and I was coated with mud within half a lap or so. I was really happy to finally catch a few singlespeeders about 2/3 of the way through the first lap. I kept a steady pace for the rest of the race, and was consistently picking more people off. Since I was doing the expert race afterwards, I was trying to find out what place I was in so I could decide whether to sprint the lap to gain time or to just pace it to save for the next race. I passed one guy, and he thought he was around 7th. Sweet, moving up. A minute later I passed another guy, and he thought he was in 13th. Not so sweet… As I was nearing the finish, I saw another singlespeeder up ahead. I gunned it on the uphill finish and closed the gap, but got beat by about a second. Unbelievably, I actually ended up finishing the SS in 5th, so I was pretty happy about that, all things considered.

The plan was then to go down to the car to grab a gel and switch bottles out. Going with the theme of the day, I looked over after the finish to see the expert field already lining up to start. I ran over to the registration to swap my number and chip out, and got the number plate on the bike. With the mud, I figured I would let my superfly stay shiny, and that I would just race the Rig again. Forgetting the bottles, I pedaled up to the queue, and heard the announcer call out “1 minute.” As the race started with about a ¼ mile of fireroad, and then a ¼ mile of asphalt, I was starting to question my singlespeed decision. When the horn went off, the field jumped, and I was immediately spit out the back spinning like a madman watching the field fade away. I had to bust out laughing halfway down the fireroad, as I don’t think I have ever been dropped so hard before on any ride. Since I was DFL, I just went with the endurance pace at this point to get some miles in and finish the race. The course kept getting better lap after lap, and by the 2nd lap of the expert, it was tacky enough that you really didn’t get dirty. My gearing was pretty good for most of the course, as there was only one longer climb that I had to walk on the 4th and 5th laps. I managed to pick 4 or 5 people off during the race, and finished up 12th out of 17. I was happy with the workout on the day, covering a muddy 45 miles in a little less than 4.5 hours. The double race was def a good experience. I’d like to try it again, but I don’t know of any other races that really stagger the SS and expert races enough to make it work.

Jeremy ended up having a worse day than I. He got up to the registration a few minutes after I did, and the USCF woman wouldn’t let him get his number plate without seeing his license. By the time he got down to the car and then made it back, he had lost a good 15 minutes or so on the group. So when he got done with the SS, the experts were way gone already. He roughed it out though and finished the three expert laps anyways. I think he even timed it well enough to come across the line in 7th place in the First Timers race. After some bathing in the creek to clean up, we finally headed back to Knoxville, and I finally got home at 11:00 pm. I’m not sure how I was convinced we would be back by 7:00 or 8:00, but I was way off. The day definitely didn’t go as planned, but what else can you do but laugh it off? At least it was a good workout.