Sunday, October 11, 2009

New place, old friends, new friends, soon to be old place. Hot Springs was a great place to spend a weekend. Water, easy camping, great trails and a wonderful celebration of two people getting married and sharing their special day with a bunch of rowdy friends.

Yes, it rained, but it fit. It wasn't about the weather, the lack of sunshine, who had the best clothes, best food, best car or even best was about spending time, sharing words, laughs, knuckle slams, hugs, smiles and vows. Nothing would spoil the groups good intention for the newlyweds.

Twas a cool weekend. Congrats to the the Leroys. Congrats to the joining of two wonderful families.

As if Jonathon and Kristen didn't have enough to plan somehow an excellent ride lingered in the works. Housekeeping came early for cabin #5 on Sunday morning (Jonathon posing as a high voiced ESL maid) after dancing the night away and topping it off with an ice cream sandwich from the local 7-11 at what seemed like 4am in the morning. I visited the twilight zone as a husband & wife or boyfriend/girlfriend pulled up to the front of the store in a truck with "beer is good" in huge white letters across the windshield and they both were sporting (non-military) camo from head to toe. If you're skeered say you're skeered! There threatening appearance didn't stop me from my strawberry shortcake ice-cream sandwich. I ain't skeered, just hungry.

We wiped the foggy vision from our eyes, gathered bike schtuff and hit Paint Mountain and Paint Rock trails. What a loop. Don't have much energy remaining and wish all my time could be spent with excellent friends on excellent trails.

Jonathon & Kristen: best wishes to you both. C and I are thankful to be in your circle of friends. May your years be as wonderful as times we have spent together and may laughter dominate your days and nights.

peace out.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

nick nack patty whack give a dog a bone-don't give em nuthin but a microphone...

If you're old enough to recognize the above lyrics, you're old enough to share the pain in my joints.

*this is an outdated post from the Westside death march a few weekends back*

Me: tour guide, ride promoter, big ego

DK and ZB: smart for cutting it short
Goal: Big west side miles

Plan: fish hatchery> pilot mtn rd> backside Farlow> 215> Pinhook gap> Balsam Lodge>
281 south> Panther Town> Toxaway estates via cold mtn rd> 281 north> Tanasee Gap> 215>
back to Fish Hatchery.

Our ride started mostly on time. It was stunningly hot, even at our 9:30 am start. Up to Farlow from the fish hatchery in typical climb like hell from the get go fashion.

We hit farlow then dropped the backside down to 215. What a ride. I don't spend enough time on the back side of Farlow. It's a beautiful area and there are some waterfalls that need exploring but, the bike always seems to prevail with consumption of my time.

We grunted up 215, with the quiet and friendly Harley riders, kind people from Rosman and finally hit Pinhook gap.

My intention was to stay mostly on gravel and made the poor assumption that all the roads on the Nat. Geo. map to the West of 215 were gravel. Oh well. You know what happens with assumptions?

We found the creek where beverages were stashed the prior night. The drop from 215 was crazy fast but fun.

Enjoyed our refreshments then went on to Balsam Lake. What an unbelievably beautiful spot.

There is a small lake and a big lodge that is rent-able. Worth the drive or/ride.

We meandered through the back roads of the Nantahala Forest and wound up on 281.

Our route took us south down 281 to a R on a road that i thought was a loop on the west side of 281. Down to a dead end we went. This road ended at a lake and there were several homes overlooking the water. One of the residents informed us of an old trail under a bridge back up to 281.

What do you know? An incorrect Nat. Geo. map? No way! We climbed back up from the lake, under said bridge then up to 281 again.

A few more miles down then a right into Panther Town. It was here that my traveling companions said "syanora" and initiated an immediate equal response from my ego. I kept on route despite the extra hour or so we spent trying to complete the circle from the lake.

We said our goodbyes and off into the dense forest of Panther Town I went. There was one sign. No, i'm incorrect--there was half of a sign. Evidently someone thought that the top of the trail marker needed to be shotgunned off into oblivion. I double checked my location by passing the trail head until the road i was on T'd into another road. Sure enough, the shotgunned trail marker marked the trail i wanted.

The Nat. Geo. map seemed mighty fine with it's nice red and blue lines, topo marks, trail names, identifying features and such but if they aren't replicated on the actual trail, then your basically screwed. I had my compass. Used it a few times but there were so many cross trails and unidentifiable trails that i just went with instinct.

My instinct was correct. I missed my turn. Eventually I ran up on some young fellow (relative to my age) and asked him if he could tell me where we were on my map. He said "no". Then I asked him if he knew the name of the road he came in on. Again, he said "no". I asked him if he knew where he was and he said "not really". A prime example of stupid fricking 20year olds.

What an idiot.

About 20 minutes later, he passed me in his jeep, that he drove to the trail head. How in the hell did he get a license.

I finally came to a signed street and realized I was waaaaaaaay West of my destination. Instead of risking dark in Panther Town, I opted for the straight shot.....64 west.

The remainder of the story is pedal, pray, pedal, pray.

64 from Saphire to the Wendy's in Brevard is not a suggested route. Now who's more stupid, me or the idiot in the jeep? Wait, don't answer that.

Some of my soon to be relatives drive subarus so I scoped out each and every subaru driver until, finally, at mile 86 my ride was over. Subaru spelled backward spells out u r a bus. When you have 20 miles on 64, the brain tends to wander.

Props to the relatives to be.

Of course the phone calls to ZB and DK were not received because they were patiently awaiting my arrival at the fish hatchery, where there is no phone reception.

good day on the bike.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Breakin the roadie rules...

Spent the weekend in Chuck town. Not a bad place. Friendly people, damn good food ( and lots of sights to see. Try the fried grits with shrimp. Worth the trip to Chuck town.

Beautiful woman had a conference to attend and invited me along. I scoped out the ride scene and found I emailed one of the ride organizers and he stated two options: 1 - 70 miles at 21-25 pace, 2 - 50 miles at 25-30 pace. I opted for the longer, slower leisurely ride.

I found the ride location on time and met several friendly local folks prepping for the hot coastal sun. We started out with about 20 folks. 18 guys/2 girls. Off we went. It was a 7am start so i was rather groggy. The first few miles were on a 4 lane SC coastal highway with pot holes that made some of the technical sections on Farlow (Pisgah Nat. Forest) seem laughable. I was a little concerned about taking my eyes off the road at all. Some of these pot holes would have swallowed a beefy 2.3 mtb tire let alone a cissy a*% road bike wheel.

We hit a pace line fast and soon left pot hole alley for some beautiful, flat barely traveled roads. It was damn hot and i was hoping not to cramp since this was constant big gear cranking, no rest, no hills, just flat constant cranking.

The day went fine. Half the group split off around 35 miles and we all continued to about 65. With 20 miles remaining, my bike felt odd and i realized my front wheel was flatting. i had just finished the down side of the pace line so i was at the rear about to start back up the fast side. I threw my hand up in the air and announced my dilemma. I thought i was prepared but my spare died, then my pump sucked so the fellows on the ride gave me a spare tube and a C02. It was mighty kind and the entire pack stopped to help me!

This was one of the kindest group of road riders I've ever hung with. It was like hanging with a bunch of mountain bikers, but on pavement.

All in all, it was a great weekend.

Cissy and i had lots of fun walking around downtown Charleston.

Glad to be able to go.

Exploring is essential to my soul.

Oh yeah, i got to see some Kick Ass boats and planes and offer tribute to those who gave their lives so i could putz around on my bike all day. Thanks to those in the armed forces.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

SORBA down under

Sumter Metric.
Yah trick Yah!

What a great day. WNDC in the house.

Spent Saturday in the Ho (Tahoe) and on Sumter, SC trails with DG, ZB and Mr. Tomato. Days like this help me realize how thankful i am for all my friends. It was swell to spend some time with them all.

The format of this Sorba benefit race was 20+- miles of rooty, hot sweaty, 100% humidity, low country single track and 40+- miles of gravel/shake n' bake pavement. I entered the Clydesdale class, against the nagging wishes of my friends, but it's a class i enjoy and am well qualified for.

Another lemans start. Blah. Uphill, in cycling shoes almost 1/3 mile. I put my bike at the end of the transition area in hope of a quick get away. I hit the single track in about 15th or 20th, after my extraordinarily slow uphill jog. I passed many people in the single track and was just settling in to a good pace when my chain broke. Dang it! Quickly fixed it and hit the trail. I guess i was in about 5-10th when the chain broke and now i was in probably 25th - 30th. Much ground to cover. We had 55 + miles ahead so there was plenty of time to get back into good position.

Until I flatted. Okay, no big deal. Get back in and go.

Another flat.

Okay. I'm out now for sure. I fixed it quickly and kept rolling. Second flat came with only 3 miles remaining. Oh well.

I rolled in to meet ZB with some excellent recovery beverages and some kick but burgers, cole slaw, beans and potato salad. Yay! I had arrived!

The trails were fun and reminiscent of my formative mountain biking years in Athens, GA and the ATL area: roots, tight single track, full on constant cranking, 100% humidity. I sweat gallons. Thankfully, an early afternoon rain cooled things down but didn't make the wooden bridges any less slippery.

Our crew represented well. a first, a second, a third and another huge milestone for DG also the DD for our Ho ride home.

Big props to SORBA and all who helped out. If you do not belong to SORBA, you best join. They do a lot for us mountain bikers.

KOM - defeat

Yuri, in my blog again!

Hats off to Yuri for what seemed like a very successful Camp Eckerd Fat Tire Festival. It was an excellent family day with sunshine, rain, food, laughs, a band, prizes, podium girls (not really), pin up girls (not really) and several members of the NUMBA from Camp Carolina - they know who they are and they are probably not any less hairy then in the early 90's.

To win King Of the Mountain (KOM), you must participate in 3 events: the 18 mile cross country race, trials and downhill.

XC review:
Crazy lemans start. Ouch. I loathe running, even 100 yards. I mustered enough gumption to run through the pain and make it to my well positioned bike. There was single track at the very beginning and i did not want to get behind a huge group and have to pass people continuously before getting my groove on. I figured hard effort at the start would allow me to sit in and groove quicker than if no hard initial effort.

I was up front with local pro/Sycamore/all around good guy Wes Dixon. I knew Wes could drop me like a hot potato but he sat back a little and let me follow for a while. Soon there were about 10 people in our group. Many fast dudes I'd seen before and some i hadn't. As in so many races, our group was BLINDLY jockeying for position and who ever was at the front missed a turn. We ended up two minutes off course. It was like we were re-creating the band scene in Animal House, but on bikes and outfits much gayer than worn by the aforementioned band. We corrected our direction and were once again in hot pursuit "coot coot coot" of the lead. Our group was passed by at least 15 people so there was a lot of time to make up.

As a direct result of my membership in WDNC, I am intimately familiar with Dupont trails. I found my groove, albeit slow, and sat in. I figured there were at least 10 people in front of me so i just kept my nose on the trail and pedaled as hard as i could.

I wanted the KOM award and knew i would have to be on to earn it. I'd have to beat Wes and all the other good riders. Heck, I'd have to be on, and they'd have to be off, and all the stars properly aligned, ducks in a row, etc. etc.

There was a Platypus about 4 spots back in my line of Ducks. Nuff said.

I didn't go for any treasures* and stayed focused on the prize. After much pain and a faster pace than usual, crossed the finish line in second! Wes beat me by 11 minutes. I was off and had to earn every mile. My legs felt like led and my breathing was off, but i stayed the course and was rewarded. I thought my place would be about 10th, because I did not pass too many riders after we were deep into the single track. Evidently many riders missed turns and/or went for the treasures. Thanks guys!
2nd place

What a cool idea! Yuri the Fury set up a trials course on some uncomfortable large boulders on part of the downhill course. Rules allowed only 5 dabs of the foot. That means you could only touch the ground with your foot 5 times. If you exceed 5 dabs, you were disqualified and received 20th place for the trials event. Well, all but two people earned 20th in trials. Everyone demonstrated regal attempts, but only two prevailed. Both fellows who finished the course ooooed and awd the crowd by riding boulders and tight turns that normal folk dream of riding. The trials event was a good way to engage the crowd, or the vultures. Either way, it was fun. I cleaned (successfully maneuvered) some obstacles that pushed my upper limits and got to practice my superman over the bars dismount once. I was disqualified but continued the course just for fun.
20th place

Well, many participants had big hit bikes (bikes set up for downhill or free ride style) and my dainty STEVE POTTS was a nimble formula one machine among baja race trucks. My downhill skills are good and me and STEVE know how to bounce n hover (a technique honed by years of hard tail riding). The course was rooty. Oh yeah, the course was rooty. Did i say the course was rooty? I think we were in the everglades root system equivalent of Dupont State Forest. I was up. Chief David over the intercom system counted down my start "3", "2", "1-go". I hit the rooty trail and started my session of "bounce n hover". Thankfully, had a good clean run and earned 3rd place, four seconds behind Wes and two seconds behind 2nd.

Didn't win KOM, but did have a damn fine day in the woods in my favorite venue...a race. My hat is off to all the participants, race staff, Camp Eckerd and all the young kids who tried something new in the form of mountain biking.

Hats off to Wes at Sycamore Cycles for bringing in his fleet of rental bikes and helmets for kids to use. We need more kids on bikes.


Lucky # PMBAR

this is a quick, little mind effort of a post, directed mainly for participants of PMBAR or those intimately familiar with it so called "soul crushing" ability

Seven – supposedly the American lucky numeral. For me, Seven totals over $300 in entry fees, $500+ repairing brake pads, new chains, shifter cables, chain rings, chiropractor visits, pepto bismal, beer and other unaccounted items resulting directly from PMBAR. Not included in this estimate is the cost of my time, shattered ego, blood loss, one week of sore arse (seven days/7 PMBARS), and effect on relationships w/PMBAR partners, effect on relationships with non PMBAR partners and energy spent.

I’m not a small person by cycling standards and the typical 2,000 calorie/day diet doesn’t apply. On average, the PMBAR routes I’ve chosen have ranged from 45 – 65 miles, with most coming in around 60 miles. So 60 miles x 7 PMBARS = 420 approximate miles pedaled for all 7 PMBARS. I can also conservatively estimate the elevation gain of each PMBAR at 9,000 vertical feet. 9 x 7 = 56,000. One mile = 5,xxx feet so I’ve PMBARed to the stratosphere. One mile of pedaling for a 210 pound fellow (some of those PMBARS I may have been 220+) equals upteen thousand calories.

The race went swell this year until…

Flat #1
Flat #2
Broken pump.

I raced with Yuri “the fury” Eliashevski. We seemed to be paired up well. Yuri was able to keep me focused in the check points and throughout the day. We picked a different route compared to most finishers.
First CP was the top of Cantrell.
2nd was Turkey Pen
3rd FS 5005
4th top of Laurel
Then 5th, end of FS 225

We never made it to the 5th CP.
While en route, we stopped at Pink Beds to get some water and I was flatting so I figured I’d go ahead and change it out. Well, my pump broke. No other riders around, only Saturday picnic people with stuffed picnic baskets and buckets of chicken. I tried to trade olsteve for a bucket but the picnickers wanted a full suspension bike, like the ones from wal mart. Yuri scouted the parking lot for a cyclist while I frantically waved down every passing car on 276 “do you have a bike pump?”

No. No. No. No. No. No.

I guess if some large guy in tights and a funny outfit waved me down on the highway I would be apprehensive as well, heck I wouldn’t have stopped.

A quick note on Karma:
At the top of Laurel, a fellow pulled up and questioned “does anyone have some chain lube?”. I had just solved the puzzle of re-inserting a small vial of chain lube back into Yuri’s saddle bag. It was like tetris x 6,000 trying to get that damn thing back in there. Well, I just sort of looked up at the sky and pretended we had no chain lube. We were ready to roll out when the fellow beckoned. Off we went. Now, I need a pump and there is none. To the fellow at the CP, I’m sorry I didn’t lend you some lube. I got what was coming to me. I will not be selfish from here on out.

Well, Karma let things pass and we waved down Fusco & Key. They had two pumps, threw us one and continued to the 225 CP. By the time we finally fixed my flat, 7 – 10 teams had passed us and we lost more time than we would gain by a 2 hour bonus for getting all 5 CP’s, so with heads low, we cruised on in.

Our effort was commendable and our mistakes (only 1 pump, carrying too much schtuff) are lessons learned to carry forward to the next adventure.

Word up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

it's been a long time

"it's been a long time, i shouldn't have left you" words of wisdom from Eric B. easily applied here. it's been way too long since i've kept up with this blog. so many things have changed in my life, for the better. more changes are to come. right now, i'm fighting the age card vs. endurance riding. knees do not like 6-10 hours on the bike/1 time a week. i'll fight it till my ashes are scattered on the trails i love the most...probably all over Dupont and the side of Buckwheat closest to the top of Bennet.

i hope everyone's cycling endeavours are positive. soon, form will return to my aching body, and riding won't hurt anymore, right?