Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 Double Dare - Day 2

I rarely sleep well except for after day 1 of the double dare. Sleep seems to be plentiful when you know you must wake in 4 hours. Oh well.

The morning came fast and with it a whirlwind of preparation. Where's the pump? Crap! I can't find my other sock! Do you have any Cliff Shots left? After a few minutes of morning delusion, the smoke in my eyes cleared and I realized what we were there to do. Eric of Pisgah Productions rode by our camper van Tahoe ringing a large boisterous cowbell at approximately 5:30 am. A cow bell seems to slice through the sanctuary of Pisgah morning silence like a hot knife through butter. I bet there were squirrels and raccoons kissing their loved ones goodbye because they thought judgement day had arrived, or maybe I solely owned those destructive actions.

Once I realized Eric's cow bell was not the doomsday tolling death bell, I shifted into high speed, gathered my things and joined Cissy who had been ready in at least 50% less time than me. She obviously finds my snail pace preparation humorous. I thought to myself "glad I can help" as we rode over to day 2 race start.

We knew what was ahead of us...another glorious day in the woods. We hurt. We were soar, tired, tight, droopy eyed etc. but we signed up for this fun and we were planning on finishing as best as possible.

The day started with a surprise (not) time trail up to the end of Pilot Mtn. Rd. @ Farlow Gap. We trotted up 276 at what felt like a sub day-1 pace and prodded our titanium steeds up 475 to Gloucster Gap. There we met a group of hooligans implementing obvious shenanigans. I needed a quick 5 so Cissy started her climb while I joined in the reindeer games. After what seemed like thousands of laughs from Mr. Tomato, I started the grind up to Farlow. I caught Cissy right at the top. We did our thing and pushed up the Art Loeb to the Parkway.

From the Parkway we hit Ivestor (Mandatory), Flat Laurel Creek, Sumney/215, Courthouse Falls, Farlow, Daniel/Farlow and Coontree. We had a good day but should have set out on foot for the John's rock hike. I'd never been up there before so was uncertain of the time necessary to grab the CP. We won't make that mistake again.

Day 2: 57 miles/+- and 10,400 +- climbing.

Much Fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 Double Dare - Day 1

I could kiss my Double Dare partner this year without fear of

A: getting clobbered by my partner
B: getting clobbered by my partners partner
C: her waking up

All of the above reasons made for an excellent Pisgah Productions weekend in the woods, and oh yeah, it didn't rain.

I teamed up with my s/o (significant other - not "surprisingly odd") for this years race. It was hard dropping my prior teammate of Jen Rinderle but about this time last year I got all googly eyed for the grocery girl and well...here I am throwing out an invitation to potential disaster. Racing with your girlfriend. Wow. That's a step in direction. To some, it would mean sure separation, but to me, and hopefully her, it was a step in the RIGHT direction.

When I started hinting to Bi-Lo mama that I may extend an invitation to her to race the 2xDare with me, I usually premised the conversation with "how do you feel about riding until your totally spent and freezing and asleep and hungry and in pain?" Her usual answer was "sounds like fun". Each affirmative answer reinforced my strong intuition that Ms. Bi-Lo was at least equally tilted as me.

We started training after returning from a glorious trip to Indonesia this summer (note the crazy bikes at the bottom of the blog and see grocery mama in native tote'n posture). Our training consisted of long rides in Pisgah re-familiarizing ourselves with coveted trails we long for. Within two months of race day, we had hit 85-95% of the checkpoints in the actual race. Not bad for a couple of crackers. Our weekends prior to the race were just as insanely glorious as the race itself.

Racing with your s/o requires synthesis and application of a different and often unspoken rule set that does not apply to your riding buddies, be them male or female. Simple comments like "come on let's go" or "we need to hurry" can wreak mental havoc on your on-trail relationship when delivered incorrectly. Not only was our training "bike training" but it was also communication training. We learned what to say and how to say it. We learned how to encourage in a non-threatening or finger pointing way.

Day 1 started unorganized. We left both our bike locks at the house. Being a piece of required gear, there was no option for an opt out. C mounted up the HO (tahoe) and boogied to Sycamore Cycles (the best shop in the world, located just outside Pisgah, and my only sponsor) for a bike lock. Not long after her return, leg one of the 2008 double dare was under way -- a time trial to the gauging station just East of Pink Beds. We left White Pines and kept a strong pace to the TT (time trial) end. We passed several teams along the way. I always wonder "is my chosen route the best?". After putting aside any doubt you must follow your instinct and roll so you don't lose any time or energy pondering a different route. Sometimes indecision takes longer than riding the 2nd or 3rd best route. Arrival at the gauging station seemed like part two of the mornings jovial atmosphere continued over from our White Pines starting point. Mater and Nancy, Clay and Toby, SMOKE bikes and several other teams had already arrived.

Race format this year was similar to prior 2XDare's. You get your race directions (passport) at the end of the morning time trial. Everyone was hovering over their 780 Nat. Geo. maps intently discussing pro's and con's of each route. We grabbed our passport and laid out a route for the next 11 hours of riding. Given the specific CP's, a Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) crossing was inevitable. Our collective memories of frigid East to West crossings of the BRP, both at night and day swayed our decision to go for a West to East traverse during daylight hours. The gushing wind amplifies the cold and makes you wish for a big sail on your bike. We took off for the Pink Beds CP and ran into Mert, Brad Key and a few other riders heading East from the Pink Beds CP. My intention was to hit the Pink Beds CP and continue West then up 276, but why are all the other riders doing something else? No time for doubting my route choice. I dropped the uncertainty and headed towards 276. The climb was beautiful but it was peak leaf season and the road traffic felt like a late night bike ride down the strip at some redneck riviera beach vacation. Needless to say the dune buggies, motorcycles, FLoridians and constant flow of traffic made conversation w/Cissy impossible.

Once we hit the BRP our route took us East to Pisgah Inn then an out and back hike-a-bike to the Laurel/Pilot Connector Trail CP. During the off camber descent down the top of Laurel, we greeted many of the teams from the TT end. Wow! Those teams were making good time, but they had to push up Pilot Rock. We grabbed a photo to acknowledge being at the CP and rushed towards the Parkway.

Cissy and I trained a lot for this race. The previous 8 weekends included at least 1 full day of Pisgah exploring. I think we explored every trail on the 780 map but we never worked in a hike up Mt. Pisgah. "Hike to the top of Mount Pisgah" was a special test worth one CP. I decided to skip it since I was uncertain of how long it would take. Hindsight shows that we should have got the CP. Oh well. Now I know for next time.

The CP's flowed well after Bent Creek Gap. We hit the Hendersonville Reservoir, Middle Fork, Yellow Gap, Bradley Fields and then back across 1206 for White Pines.

Overall our route choice was average but our ride was excellent. Cissy and I gave it all we had and did the best we could. For Cissy's first endurance MTB race, she did great. We each suffered a par for the course mishap that unfortunately involved almost total submersion in a creek. But you have to love being soaking wet, freezing, sleepy, worn out, hungry and totally spent or this is not your race.

We communicated at a new level by the end of the day. Our ego's fell and our true needs easily shined through. Racing together was definitely the RIGHT decision. Our arrival at White Pines was wonderful. A quick check in and off to dream land in the back of the HO on the best futon mattress in the world. Glorious, glorious slumber! 4 1/2 hours of sleep then back to work on those saddle sores.

Props to Carlos for that excellent piece of steak at the Bradley CP.

81 miles, 10,800+- feet of climbing

Monday, October 6, 2008

Half full/Half empty?

Another day in life completed.

Black Mtn > Turkey Pen > 22 jumps > Bradley Creek > Pea Gap > Bradley Creek > 1206 > Laurel Mtn. > Pilot Rock > 1206 > 276 > 475B > Seniard (now road) > 225 > 475B > 475 > 276 > Black Mtn.

44.57 miles/7750 feet elevation/8 or so hours

Loss or gain? Happy column? Sad column? Good? Bad? Half full? Half Empty?

Big fish, little fish swimming in the water............

Disgusted with my current profession, i sit and profess to you, electronic shiterature voyeur, about half full/half empty:

  • What a great day in the woods. That's a beautiful new subdivision.
  • A 9 hour journey in Pisgah is an appetizer. If we get the STARZ pack, we'll have 9 more HD options.
  • We climbed more hours than not. Is there an elevator to the mezzanine?
  • My empty stomach after four hours of riding made me feel lighter and faster. Yes. Up size combo 4 please.
  • My cell phone doesn't work. My cell phone doesn't work.
  • My girlfriend is so sweaty. My girlfriend is so sweaty.
  • I smell like a day in the woods. I smell like a day in the woods.
  • Did that huge tree witness Indians on this trail? Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Was this day a success? In which column does it fall? Is there an anti-me for every me--someone living the opposite side of my equation real-time?

It was an excellent day. Cissy and I started out from the Black Mountain trail head after a long conversation with Peter, the ultra-endurance event connoisseur. Congrats to Peter for completing so many 100's this year. Keep it up.

We grinded up Black Mountain in regular painful format. It's always a quick warm up when you go up black - like starting out a long track work out by doing 4 or 5 full effort 200's. Our goal was to keep moving all day. We set out for a "book em Dano" but missed the arrest. Even though we had a great day @ 44.57 miles, the deep, dark, doubt catalyst in the back of my mind was energized by not hitting 50.

The early fall splendor of Turkey Pen is amazing. Few leaves on the trail, crisp air cooling your skin via sweat soaked clothes, wind in the leaves harmonizing with subdued mental screams durring the chilling descents and the equally brutal hike-a-bikes. All of these items add up to one great day. After the normal grunts and groans we descended the stairs into the Mr. Kuntz driveway extension known as Turkey Pen road, much to the surprise of two horses who looked as if they've never seen two ripping mountain bikers bomb a set of stairs from sheltered woods into an open parking lot. Gosh? We made pleasantries with the horses (and their riders) then proceeded down 22 jumps, now much more cautionary than prior since a horse greeting was fresh in our mind.

We went right on Bradley Creek, missed the turn to Pea Gap, crossed the river 1 too many times and realized our mistake. We backtracked up Pea Gap then bombed the lush single track to continue up the Bradley Creek trail. The air was perfect. It felt like a high altitude Colorado day in the dark green depths of Pisgah. Our final Bradley Creek crossing rendered us in the lush feed plots towards the confluence of Bradley Creek, Laurel Creek and 5015 (the road of long conversation). I couldn't recall ever riding up Bradley Creek to 1206 so I jumped at the chance to see which route to Laurel Mtn. trail head was faster...5015 or Bradley Creek? Ms. Bi-Lo headed up 5015 and I hit Bradley Creek. The creek was beautiful and I added about 50 of those "i should come back here on foot" kind of notes. There were at least 4 or 5 good swimming holes and I was surprised there were no skinny dippers taking advantage of the crisp water and the warm rocks. As to which route was quicker, we now know the answer and you, the extremely bored reader, must offer pleasurable gifts to be in the know.

Ms. Bi-Lo was ready for more so up Laurel we proceeded. No bees, not many other riders, 1 bear (not beer), a few long pushes, 3 weary riders and 1 extremely bewildered lost dude on foot. We arrived at the cut through to Pilot Rock. It was a great place to catch a quick bite to eat and ingest some caffeinated gel to heighten my senses for the dragons back downhill immediately in our sights. As we ate, I casually inspected my bike and noticed two pencil size blobs protruding through the thread bearing design know as my rear tire sidewall. Much to my dismay, Park Tool sidewall sleeves loose their adhesive properties after 16 months of storage in a sweat stricken, crusty Camelbak pocket. How bout that? They still worked with a little coercion.

Off to the races. Grocery Mama went first. I followed her shiny cart right down the center aisle of Pilot. Watching her chosen line. Sometimes following it and sometimes busting my self on things she was gliding over. Enough of follow the leader. There's a sale on aisle nine and I gotta roll. Past Grocery Mama and off to the first of many gnarly switchbacks. I didn't quite have the finesse of a perfect day but it was close. Occasionally, I'd steal a peak of the great 1206 valley below thinking "we are way up here" and quickly focusing back on the trail so i didn't end up "way down there" quicker than i cared for. I stopped a few times to watch C take a few switchbacks. It's always crazy trying to judge an others comfort level. She rode most of the ones i thought she'd skip and dabbed one or two of the ones i thought she'd fly over. Superb balance and perty teeth too! What a package deal.

We re-grouped at the bottom near 1206, mixed some iodine cocktails and headed for 475B. 1206 always seems like a never ending road, especially when traveled west to east. Out to the pavement and south towards Taco Bell (yes i was hungry). A quick stop at the Pink Beds water fountain to replenish our iodine cocktails then on our way to the entrance of 475B from 276. I pray the transition from smooth downhill sailing onto the immediately slightly uphill gravel is the closest I'll ever come to experiencing a run away truck ramp. A little climb here, left turn, right turn then on to what is now Seniard Road. It had been quite a while since being on this trail. I remembered it as an easy flowing jaunt along the contour and now it's like a driveway to some disgustingly wealthy McCain flavoured corporation CEO's seldom visited mountain home. We pushed on, despite our political dilemmas. Although freshly cut trees and widened corridors seldom offer immediate satisfaction to riders, the new views of Looking Glass were phenomenal! I highly recommend checking them out.

The new road dropped us off on 225 and we mozied towards the fish hatchery on 475B to 475 proper then to 276 and back to the Ho, Tahoe that is.

8+ hours later, Peter's car was still there.

Biking with my special grocery gal is red velvet cake wrapped in a layer of chocolate hidden in the middle of an Oreo crusted cheesecake...but much less fattening.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Peace on earth

I feel re-inserted in the life i choose, amongst friends, desired family and my bike.
If two days in the woods can make me feel this good, then how about a month?
or the rest of my life?

Thanks to all who came out for the Pisgah "little" epic on Saturday.
I hope to repeat soon.

So few days, so many trails to ride.
I wish for all the time in the world to spend riding with my friends.
Twinkles is cool.

What about the constant pain of long days in the woods makes us return?
What is pleasurable about cramping thighs?
What point in our nurturing did we crumble and desire constant, repetitive punishment as the solution?
Or did we evolve with a hint of sadomasochism indulgence?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My bike is my mental colon blow.

I'm off the bike now. Injured. Why?
Was there too much movement.

My quest for clarity, enlightenment, interrupted.

My sole refuge gone. Coffee nor beer offers similar solace. The internal judgement of me is unbalanced.

As I ride, movement reduces the abstract of my day.

"Did I respond to that client properly?" - out after the first mile.
"How much do I need to make to have a great retirement?" - second mile
"I'm not worth shit, to me or anybody" - second hour, thought gone
"My house is a living hell" 2 1/2 hours
"I'm breathing and pedaling" 3 hours

Clear mind - 4 hours

Euphoria found in repetitive movement.
My body is full of abstract right now.
My bike is my mental colon blow.
Have a bowl...won't you?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sunday, 7/29/07

Spent a good weekend down in the bellos, Campobello that is with friends ZB, Mater, Kristen N Meghan. Did some bike spa schtuff, cookin out, enjoying adult bevs so on and so on. Went to Croft State Park today and kicked down a quick 21. I dig the trails in NC but twisty single track takes me back to my roots of Yellow River, early 90's Athens, Chicopee, basic ATL tight n twisty...just like i like it. ZB n Mater were SS it so i was kicking the gears. Wow...do i miss the tight n twisty. Zoom zoom, not in Mazda style but in schwoopy, bumpy going so fast you hover kind of style. I was made for that kind of riding and it's nice to hit every once in a while. It makes me know i am alive, like nothing else can.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yeah. I like my bike. Had em longer than any girlfriend, longer than most friends, maybe that will change in the near future. People who don't ride don't understand it's a love affair; the spin, the wind, the breathing, consuption of adult beverage after the ride...it's a lifestyle. Did 65 miles today on the road bike. Went from Hendo to Saluda then down Holbert Cover and back up the 17 switchbacks and back to Saluda> Greenville Watershed then Hendo again. What a day. I thank God for my ability to ride and clear my mind of funk. I should tape record rides cause i come up with some great ideas but today all i could do was recite the chorus to Mojo Nixon's "are you drinkin wif me Jesus". I'ts not a blasphomous (sp) song but a kind and friendly way of perceiving Jesus. Jesus, he's my friend and Jesus is just allright with me and of course Jesus just left Chicago. Any way, this is me and the bike is what propells my life, keeps me looking forward to another day and if you don't understand that, don't want to accept that and think you can change that...well don't waste my time or yours. You may fool me for a while but not for the long haul...and i hope i have a long haul. If you break up U-Haul it can sound rather pleasant and Hawaiian U-ha-ul! My friend John Duval coined that one while helping him move to some hot sunny place where he forged his way into matrimony and thank god not alimony. I hope all who read this have exquisite peace in their day and get a smile from someone who really cares about them and knows them. Next time you're at the bar, smile and take another sip and say a little prayer and a thank you to Jesus, cause you know he's there with you.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ping Ping Ping. Richochet Rabbit.

Rabbits are cute and fluffy, but they still get fleas and disease and they die and get hit by cars and trucks and eaten by wolverines. Such is life, and I've been off the bike for almost a month now. "Shucks Wally, this sucks".
"So Beav, what've you been doin?"
"Hiking, listening to Purple Rain over and over and watching "The Whitest Kids U'know" on IFC.com. It's funny as all git out."

In all reality, if there is such a thing, time off the bike allows for other influences to re-enter your life, like finishing the three year kitchen re-model or writing the great Hendersonville novel. The novel will probably finish first.

No biking = too much crazy head space


Not sure what's what anymore. Looking for that thing called "sanity".
Sanity is relative I suppose. Those who seem to have it, often don't and those lacking can plead ignorance. So, if I never knew what sanity was in the first place would I know I lost it? Maybe ignorance is bliss. Maybe bliss is achievable.

Achieve bliss and ignorance will follow.
Sometimes, stupidity is great.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

scooters, vacation, fall

If you're not scared yet, you should be now!

Here I sit, still retarded, tried to type but only sharted. Well, not really. I've been away for a while...on purpose. Sometimes it's good to step away from the things that turn your screw, crank your shaft, butter your muffin, even if it's just for a few days. My last ride worthy of blogging (less a few that are unmentionable) was a jaunt in the woods with my pal ZB.

I've been crying "i want to go to FATS", "let's go ride FATS" since early summer when i first heard how wonderful FATS is. Finally someone in my posse stepped up and said "let's go" (yeah, I have a posse). ZB and I hopped in the car cause we was on a quest--50 miles of FATS, just a little test. Zoomin to James Brown Town at the speed of sound. Directtions were simple: 26 south twards James Brown Town, pass Gypsy town, go Right and the trail head is on the Left. Seemed simple enough until we started seeing weird sites.

Often i felt like ZB and I had actually entered the twilight zone. I swear I saw a few wolf boys and a hot nurse with a pig head, maybe even two. We stopped at a store that was the muse for the writing of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Poltergeist TV on the wall, truck parts, spare tires, 1 old cash register, campers in the front parking lot, dust on all the sugar filled fat kid treats and i swear i heard the buzz of a bug zapper in the distance. All this and a sober ZB??? WTF??? I would have felt safer allowing Woody cart me in the Bobcat across Triple Falls at Dupont. Bla bla bla.

We continued southbound and rolled into a town called Saluda. Now, don't confuse the South Cacka Saluda with the North Cacka Saluda. The SC Saluda makes the NC Saluda's Coon Dog Day Festival look like a f*c!&ng Mensa convention. Anyway, more on SC Saluda later.

ZB and I rode two complete loops totalling 50.25 miles. Yay. I was feeling slow due to a long year on the bike. I just wanted to stop and lay in the sun. ZB was in typical form and meeting every challenge I presented. FATS was worth the drive. We left the Mother Pisgah for a rolling terrain of only 25 miles? Yeah, it rocked. Hats off to Todd the trail master for laying these suckers out. We went counter clockwise the first loop and then hit it reversed the 2nd time. FATS was a blast. There were dips, berms, quiet pine forests, short hills, little grunter hills, fun schwoopy shit and fast blasts through twisty pines and hardewoods. We were having so much fun, i think i only took 7 or 8 pictures. Here they are:

It's all fun & games.

Protectors of the trail. You must give penance to these folks or be doomed.

Well, the ride photos summed it up. Excellent ride, cool trails, constant peddling instead of constant climbing.

We finished up our ride, packed the car, jawed with a couple locals who were amazed that we'd ditch Pisgah for FATS and headed back up the grade, to SC Saluda that is. I, as always needed some food, especially since my companion was wearing his sobriety hat (freak). As we approached Saluda, I spotted what i thought was a melon stand but turned out to be only apples and oranges and some pee cans. I talked ZB into posing with the lady with the melons, for sale that is. I can't post my picture with her, it might jeoparrdise my future seat in the senate.

We ate an apple or two and continued on to Saluda where the main road was closed for a Christmas parade so we had to navigate on the side streets of town, where we found the next photo opp.

I pray. I'm spiritual and i'm not baptist. I don't judge those of other religions, i don't even judge bapptists but if your just fricking ignorant I consider you fair game. I'll end this post with the following photo:

I swear it's real.
Peace to you all and I hope to see you all on the trails real soon.