Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Alley oop oop. Oop. Oop. Oop!

July 3, 2011 - First Annual (hopefuly) Brevard, NC Alley Cat Race.

What a blast! Thirty some odd people (i use odd loosely) including kids, adults, adults who are still kids and in-betweens. This was my first participation in an Alley Cat Race.

Typical alley cat format is basically no format at all. This race consisted of 10 or so check points, each worth a certain amount of points based upon their distance from the starting point. Also in the mix were a number of local landmarks, people and combinations of both that were each worth an additional 3 points each.

Who ever has the most points and returns to the designated finishing area by the cut-off time wins.

My buddy and official H8R, aka ZB, decided he just wanted to follow me for the race since he doesn't know Brevard all that well. Together we sped through Brevard and its outskirts, collected pictures, signed sign in sheets, danced, busted some rhymes, begged, consumed liquid refreshment, obeyed all and any traffic laws, improvised as necessary and hauled booty for an hour and a half and made it back to the Square Root (the official race end) within the designated time frame.

The race started from a very educational location and proceeded to a place of higher education where we received our official maps/passports. We had to race to the first checkpoint to get our maps. It was a dead sprint from the beginning. There was no direct route to the designated check point so i figured it would be best to stay off the main roads and enter through the back door. It seemed that half of the racers went for the main road route and i was part of the other half. We zoomed over to the side entrance of said place of higer education but i was uncertain where the building was that we had to go to. Up ahead of the pack was a recent graduate of said higher learning center so i knew it would be prudent to follow her lead. Sure enough, she led us right to the maps.

I grabbed our map, looked at the various spots we had to ride to and photograph, decided upon a route and busted off through the field. I decided upon a clock wise route that would enable us to hit every check point.

The obvious check points were mostly well known businesses in and around Brevard (Poppies, Red House Inn) but the extra credit points were as follows: catface, waving preacher man, running umbrella man, big roosters, iron elk, city limit sign, grazing yard cows, FL license plate, white squirell picture and a few others.

Since we are residents of the nearby towns and not Brevard "townies" like most of the competitors (i'd like to be a Brevard townie though) we didn't understand the signifcance of "waving preacher man" and "running umbrella man" but like i said, we improvised.

All of the navigation was made on the fly, with map in hand, trying not to soak it with sweat and some of the pictures were taken while still riding. Thanks to my former life as an Adventure Racer and my current life as a real estate appraiser, i'm fairly good at navigating, reading maps and taking pictures while still in motion.

If you look at the pictures, you'll see the fun embedded in our activity. We worked hard and i thought i was going to hurl several times. I'm not used to sprinting on my bike for that amount of time. Give me a six hour ride and i'll blow it out with much more ease than a dead on 1.5 hour sprint.

To my surprise, we ended up having the most points and I was awarded with the best trophy (other than my trophy fiance') that was hand crafted by Dan Ennis. This was hands down, the most fun i've had in a race in years! Oh, and my trophy fiance' tied for third!

Much thanks to Dan and Tristan for an awesome event!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

TSE - Day 7, the final day

TSE Day 7 – the final day

“I think we worked perty well together”, a quote straight from Cissy. Yeah. We finished. We’re bad. Oh yeah! 7 days! We made it. What an accomplishment. I feel great and I don’t want it to end. It was painful during the entire process but now I want it to continue. I want to have to wake early in the AM and hop on the bike on my sore arse and ride 40+ miles of difficult trails and spend 4 hours suffering. I want to do it again. What in my genetic make up makes me crave such suffering. Why do I enjoy punishing myself? What aspect of suffering gives me pleasure? Don’t know. Uncertain. I do know that I’m in Pennsylvania and they sell beer from the bar in 6 packs and 12 packs and I have a 12 pack of Pennsylvania brewed Yuengling sitting here beside me that probably won’t make it through the night (well at least 6 of them). I just returned from the bar (beer store) with said 12 pack which is extremely celebratory and now my wonderful woman is cooking macaroni and cheese from scratch in a camper after riding 7 days in a stage race and what could be better? You tell me and I’d say you are wrong. This is what I live my life for and I’m currently knee deep and enjoying it and here I am…. Smiling and happy and don’t want it to end. I see yoga poses out of the corner of my eyes, smell macaroni and cheese in my nostrils, hear rain on the camper roof, feel food and beer in my belly, feel pain in my quads, feel 7 days of racing just under my belt and I need nothing else.
All is good.



Official finisher of the 2011 Trans Sylvania Mountain Bike Stage Race co-ed duo team.

26.47 miles
30.5 max speed
2:46 time
9.5 avg

we're done

Friday, June 3, 2011

TSE Day 6

TSE Day 6

It was actually cold this morning as opposed to the 93 degree heat on Monday. The race start began about 4 miles from the race headquarters base camp. All racers left the base camp and did a slow ride to the start.
The race director said “go” and we went. Cissy and I stayed on the wheels of our only competitors for the first hour and twenty minutes then they pulled away from us on a long downhill. We saw them at the end of the race. Only one of them had taken off their helmet, so we weren’t far behind. Actually, we were only 10 minutes behind…so not too shabby!

The trails today were mostly rocks and some rocks and then a few more rocks. After the first trail of rocks, there were more rocks. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the rocks? The rocks were rideable though and it took fierce concentration to navigate the smoothest line.

We started on a gravel road and quickly entered a forest service road which evolved into double track then single track and finally hike a bike. The hike a bike was not too long and we were rewarded with a beautiful overgrown single track descent in which your front wheel had to part its way through the blueberry bushes covering the path. All you could see was a narrow strip of dirt so you just hoped that there was not a big rock or downed tree that the person in front of you just happened to miss and leave there for you to hit. After the narrow path through the blueberries, the trail turned into an old double track road that descended for about 3 miles. This part of the trail had a creek running through it for a while so by the end, we were wet and muddy. From here we pedaled gravel roads, hard pack and some more single track.

The day ended with a grunt up a wet, sloppy section of single track and a quick descent to the finish.

Overall, Cissy and I put forth a huge effort today. We were both “on” all day long. We worked it like we know how to do. When I was tiring, she’d pull up and take the lead, then I’d return the favor. We both agreed that the four hours plus in the saddle today seemed to go by quicker than any of the previous days. We put forth a huge team effort and were rewarded with knowing that we gave it our all, and worked well as a team. Cissy stepped it up through the last rock section and over a beautiful ridge on Tussey Mountain. Once again, she was riding with a new set of skills that she’s been keeping in her back pocket for a while. It hurt to stay with her on that ridge but I did, and we finished.

One more day.

39 miles
30.5 max
9.2 avg

Thursday, June 2, 2011

TSE - Day 5

TSE - Day 5

Today was four short xc style races formatted in a rolling ride. All racers rolled out of the staging area at a slow pace until we got to the start then each group raced a short race to the next finish. After all the racers finished, we rode together to the next start and did it all again. Four little races in one large rolling group. Total miles were only 28 or so. It was a very relaxed stage and most of the lead riders sorta took it easy. Since the individual races were so short, most leaders didn't have to worry about losing much time in the overall standings. It was a fun format.

Cissy and i did our best in the rocky terrain, passing a lot of people who obviously don't ride Pisgah or Pennsylvania often enough to scurry over the rocks quickly. Cissy saw a huge rattlesnake on the side of the gravel road in between two race stages. We started and finished at R. B. Winter State Park. It seemed like a nice place. Lake, beach, pavilions, camping sites etc.

Not much more to say other than our legs are tired and only 2 days remaining in the race. Tomorrow will be another long day in PA. We should see some good views as we will be riding a ridge line trail for quite a ways.


28 ish miles.
top speed ?
avg ?
legs: tired
belly: bloated
eyes: heavy

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

TSE day 4

TSE Hump Day – Day 4.

It was day 4 of 7 today so only 3 stages remaining. Once again, as predicted, we gained on our sole competitors. Our course today consisted of Tsali like trails mostly on contour following the edge of Raystown Lake. We had two twenty ish mile laps to complete. Today we gained 6500’ in 42 miles. Yesterday we gained less but it hurt more because the climbs were continuous. Today we had 42 miles of fun rolling-dip-grade, side hill bench cut, machine made trails much similar in fashion to the trails at Dupont State Forest and that worn out place known as Tsali. This course made us smile. We laughed and had a lot of fun.

The race started with a controlled start from a paved road at lakes edge. We had to pedal about ½ mile up an 8-10% grade then into the single track. Cissy and I started a little too hard and had to back up off of it for just a tad. We shortly got into a good rhythm and started to gain on who ever we saw ahead of us. There was only one aid station today and it was located at mile 9 of the course. On our second lap just as we were approaching the aid station, I noticed the leading team in our class just up ahead of us. I was psyched. I had been telling Cissy that we were gaining on them since the second day. Finally, what I had been whining about came to fruition – our competitors wearing thin and in our sites. The aid station had tape set up to guide our path into the open field that was now a bike race aid station. When our competitors saw us they switched out some empty water bottles for some full ones and kept on. We did the same. Now we were right on their tails with 13 miles of race remaining. I thought since we had caught up to them that they were worn out, but they were evidently discounting us. Needless to say they picked up the pace. We could see them in the opposite side of the coves on the trail, just a little ahead of us then their gap kept growing. Finally they were out of sight, but not out of mind. Cissy got up to my wheel and I told her we were going to have to grunt out every hill in order to catch them. “Just look at the ground and pedal. Don’t think about nothing else except pedaling as hard as you can”, I told her. We employed that specific idea and cranked as hard as we could. I was a little sad that our competitors had gotten out of sight but I did not give up. In a race this close anything could happen. If they had a wreck or any mechanical snafu, we would catch and pass them. Not that we would wish misfortune on any team, because we wouldn’t, but we just wanted to catch them.

We kept pedaling, madly. Cissy is a stronger climber than me and she would catch me on the climbs, so I was letting it go on the downhills. We kept at it and suddenly up through the woods I caught a slight glimpse of our competitor's orange kits. I told Cissy to stay on my wheel no matter how hard. We sneaked up behind them and caught our breaths just enough to make our move. They had not noticed that we had caught back up so when I passed the first guy he yelled to his partner “I’m not behind you any more Andy, you gotta pick it up”. There I was positioned between both riders with Cissy behind the first place team’s second rider. Now it was Adam, Me, Adam’s partner then Cissy. At this point we had about 1 mile of course remaining. The four of us were flying, cranking for all we were worth. I was hoping for one more really steep long climb but from here on out it was a pure power move to get to the finish line. Adam was hurting but we were determined. Our frantic foursome approached some stray riders who obviously heard us working hard and just moved out of the way to let this freight train roll by. It was like we were creating a breeze that surprised and made each person we passed lean back away from the trail with an expression showing amazement and excitement for a close race.

Cissy and I held with them as long as we could. In this race, there is a 30 second rule. As applied to the duo team category, it means that you can never be 30 seconds away from your partner. While I was cranking and keeping our competitors team split up, I was also yelling to Cissy to see if she could pass but the guy behind me was just too fresh and we had to let em go.
They beat us by 22 seconds.

We will be at the starting line again tomorrow and I will not give up.

I forgot to put my computer on the bike this am so these stats are from Cissy’s ride.
42 miles
31.5 max
6300’ climbing
Avg 10.1 ish

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TSE - Day 3

TSE Day 3 – Gravel, gravel, gravel.

We rode a lot of gravel if you didn’t infer that by the title of today’s review. Our plan was to start slow and maintain a good pace then go faster if we could. Again, I was the weak link, but not as bad as yesterday. The heat is beating me down. I poured every third bottle of water on my head and neck to try and keep my temperature down. It helped a bunch. Bla.

What we saw today came straight out of an issue of National Geographic. Green everywhere. Solitude in the forest is what we witnessed as we climbed for a total of 5300’ in 49 miles. It was hard to imagine how some of the climbs kept going. We’d round a turn and think we were at the top but the next turn revealed more up. It seemed to never stop. Most of the climbs were along mountain streams. We also had quite a bit of shade (thank God). Some of the streams were misting upwards towards the road bed and you would occasionally get a cool treat from the water. The route took us through Coburn, PA and almost to Woodward, PA as well. We hit a fair amount of the Wilderness 101 routes beginning and end and also passed through an old rail tunnel that felt like Mother Nature’s air conditioning. It was a sweet 20 seconds of cool air.

I’m beat and my imagination sweat out of me somewhere on the course today.

We gained a little bit of time on the male duo team who is winning our class and getting all the daily swag.

We have four more days and tomorrow is supposed to be fun rolling man made “for biking” trails.
Hopefully it won’t be hot enough to melt my helmet to my head.

Peace. DJC

10.7 Avg
47.9 miles
Max speed 40

Monday, May 30, 2011

Trans Sylvania Epic - Day 2

TSE Day 2 - Welcome to PA’s finest.

Today hurt. 43 miles, aw shucks - that’s not so far! Well heck, I can ride that far at the drop of a hat... but not on rocky Pennsylvania single track. For those familiar with the rock garden near bottom of Pilot Rock Trail, Pisgah National Forest N.C., – take that and spread it out on 15-20 miles of single track. The rocks weren’t as big and loose as on Pilot, but they seemed constant. Most all of the trail was rideable but throw in the 90 degree heat, steep gravel climbs and 15 extra pounds around the midsection and you have a prime candidate for the sag wagon. Oh yeah, I’m teamed up with Cynthia T. Fowler. I didn’t realize that the “T” stands for tenacious and there was no pity party for me on the trail today. I wanted to stop several times but I was provoked by a cheerful voice that kept reminding me of earlier days, when I was actually in shape and actually prepared for a ride like this. She never let me stop. I am thankful for that. I went through almost 200 oz. of water. Did I mention it was hot? Near the end of the race I stopped in a stream, dropped to my knees and sunk my head in the crisp PA mountain water. That was awesome. The cool water seemed to block pain receptors and pity me thoughts for about five minutes. When I finally came to, we were winding on a sparsely rocked single track trail supposedly rolling us along to the last road section of the day. This last section was about 4 miles and it wound through a PA bog. What a beautiful sight. This trail is not very spectacular for a mountain bike trail but beautiful for walking, stopping and observing. The bog area was full of moss, downed trees and soft loamy soil. Water was rushing everywhere and out of its typical spillways due to the recent heavy rains. This part of the course was a pleasure to witness.
Overall, the day seems less evil the more time separates my memory from the pain. By tonight, I’ll have forgotten most of the pain and will be looking forward to tomorrows 40+ mile stage. Today was supposed to be the hardest day, so I look forward to not suffering as much tomorrow.

We did our best. The leaders had several hours on us but who cares. We finished and we’re still smiling and still planning on getting married eventually. All is well in our world.

From my bike computer:
44.26 miles
8.6 average speed
30.5 max speed
Now I know what it feels like to be the weakest link.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic -day 1.

Pre prologue. Tired. Heavy legs. Nervous. Why? Don’t know. What you scared of? Don’t know. Actually not much unless I’m nervous. Belly full of nerves. Here for fun. This isn’t fun. This is nerve racking. Soaking up all my energy. Instead of into the pedals it’s into my head. Want to be here until I’m here. Then it’s easy to be somewhere else in my mind, but not physically. I need to be here now. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. For me. For Cissy. It’s dangerous not to be here. I’ve checked out. Gotta check back in by 2:30, when the race starts. Then we have 1:30 minutes before Cissy and I start our prologue. I’m racing against nobody but my head. Basket case. I’ve raced 100’s of times. Nothing on the line. This is supposed to be relaxed and easy. I’m so nervous I almost wish I was working. Gotta break through this nervous energy before it consumes all my good calories and mental energy for the prologue. This is what we do. Why? I guess it’s what we know. I’ve raced in this area twice. The wilderness 101 goes through this area. We rode the prologue yesterday so it’s not like I don’t know what to expect. Beastie Boys just rolled on my mp3 thing. That helps a little, “cause I am most ill and I’m rhyming and stealin”. Feel energy turning. Turning into leadership. Gotta lead Cissy through this race. She looks up to me. Why? Sometimes I’m uncertain. But I do believe this is where I shine…on the bike. It’s where our relationship also shines. We work well as a team, now an opportunity to test it on unfamiliar ground. Let us shine. T69 minutes till race start. Peace.
Warm it up Dave. I’m about to.
A billion butterflies later and I’m back. No…I’m back! Thanks to the prayers and faith in what I am and what I’ve done in this life. Cissy and I both stepped it up. About two seconds after the starter said “go”, I forgot every bit of jittery BS that had been in my mind. What fun. The beginning of the course was newly cut single track around the seven mountains boy scout camp (race venue). This stuff is similar to a wet day in the Pisgah woods; slick roots, twisty and some rocks. We circled around then went out of the camp on some gravel, then to awesome fern forest single track, crested a mountain, descended through about 10 brazillion blueberry plants, back down the mountain, through a Pennsylvania bog and back to the start/finish. There was some sweet rocky single track and some fun descents. The best part was watching Cissy kick it through some swoopy, loamy, rocky single track. She kicked it up about 150% and rode so smooth I just had to yell “woman, yes!” to which she later responded “I couldn’t talk because I thought I was going to throw up the whole time”. Awesome!
We finished with a strong, all out team effort. Tomorrow is billed as the toughest day. 42 miles and some very rocky schtuff.
There were only a handful of “duo” racers so the promoter lumped the "all-male" teams and "coed" teams together under one “duo” category. We finished second behind some dudes from Mass. A lot can happen in six 28-47 miles days of racing. We plan on giving it our best.

TSE 2011 prologue
2nd place duo
1400 ft climbing

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Snake Creek Gap Time Trial #3_March_2011

Snake Creek Gap #3
33.18 miles/Max speed 43/3.55 time/8.5 avg
Race review

*Big props to Austin Parsons for keeping my mountain bike in top notch shape! Not one occasion of chain suck in 34 miles of sticky, all encompassing, North Georgia chocolate. Thanks Austin!

My hopes and dreams of Pinhoti trail in pristine form washed away thanks to 12 hours of pre-race rain. Muddy was the trail but not soggy as one month prior. In February’s race the snow and ice melt had settled into the first few inches of soil creating a spongy type surface…much like wet sand. In yesterday’s race there was only an inch of slop atop a solid base of Northwest GA soil. The conditions, although undesirable, were not quite as miserable as a month ago.

My goal for this race was to knock 30 minutes off my previous time. That may seem like a lofty goal but considering my lack of training for the first race it was obtainable. With four semi-dedicated weeks between races, there was enough time to shed a few pounds off my “winter sofa”, gain more fitness and attend four more indoor trainer classes at Sycomore-Hendo. Also thrown into that mix is some coaching from a coach formerly associated with an organization not to be named that was affiliated with some dude who won a big race over the pond seven times. I have not completed much training under the newly hired “coach” but I am looking forward to it. So far he’s been more of a person to answer to and that alone has kept me more focused than usual.

Thirty minutes. An episode of Family Guy, a meal at Waffle House, an easy crossword puzzle, intimate interaction with a friendly TSA agent…the list goes on. I knew I could do it but only with focus and determination. I couldn’t joke around at the sag stops. I couldn’t chill behind people maintaining an easy pace. I’d have to push it with some reserve so I didn’t explode and lose all the effects of my coffee doping (they don’t test for that yet).

The Snake Creek Gap TT is divided into two 17 mile sections, each similar in terrain but with the second section having a little more climbing and enough rocks to make a person think they were riding an easy trail in West Virginia. The first half was basically a warm up for me. These over 40 quads need a L O N G time to warm up. Thanks to the recent indoor trainer classes, I’ve reconnected with spinning and spun the first 17 miles but noticed I was not that tired and not very winded at the mid-point rest stop. Emcee extraordinaire and friend Bruce Dickman laid his charm into the microphone and publicly ribbed me with threats of telling my woman how lazy I was and how slow I was and how I must beat a time of 4’06”. I thought about the time and wondered its significance then Bruce said “that’s my official best course time”. Beat Bruce’s time? Ha! I must! Instead of relishing in the pleasure of the warm coffee poured for me by the kind volunteer, I set the half drank cup down, grabbed my hefty pack and bolted up the trail. All the while, fading in the distance, was Bruce threating tales of slackness being told to my woman.

I had a goal of 30 minutes off my prior time, but now I had a goal to better Mr. Dickman’ s time. I re-focused and suddenly realized I hadn’t been breathing hard for most of the race. I shifted up to my middle ring and started laying on the power, rolling in a groove I’d been waiting for to show up. I put my head down and did what I love to do most. I entered a silent world of concentration, Zen you could say, where my only thought is to roll forward. It’s this state of mind that keeps me on the bike. It’s a certifiable drug. It’s my own personal Charlie Sheen, and like his, it is not FDA approved.

I found great pleasure in the middle ring. My quads rejoiced as the additional warmth generated fed the feel good engine of my Zen state of mind. The extra effort made me faster. The rocks came and over them I rolled. With years of Pisgah as my playground I found much pleasure navigating the technical sweetness of jagged granite. A fit looking skinny fellow passed me but i came back up on him some time later. He was pushing up a steep rocky section. I decided now was my time. I sucked it up and grunted up the granite laden hill filled with awesome pain and pleasure. The skinny dude cheered me on as I passed by and he even gave me a little push. This is my element. My peace. Where I love life the most. A simple 30 seconds of simultaneous pleasure and pain. At the top, I was spent but kept going because I couldn’t shake echoes of “4’06” in Bruce’s most recognizable voice in the forefront of my consciousness.

The next few miles seemed to go on for hours in my mind’s eye but it was only around 30 minutes. I wanted to clear the entire rock garden with no dabs but exhaustion set in and claimed the win. Finally the radio towers appeared in the fog and pure relief came over me since this indicated the end of the race. It was all downhill from this point. A super-fast descent to the finish. I looked at the time on my odometer and smiled. I’d beat Bruce’s time, and make my goal with a few minutes to spare.

As I write this, I think of the fun I had yesterday, the 10 hours of driving, money spent, pain endured and wonder “when do I get to do this again?”


Monday, February 21, 2011

Snake Creek Gap time trial #2

Snake Gap Creek time trial – race 2, Feb. 5, 2011
First race of the season, and I hurt. It’s been a long comfortatble winter……on the sofa. “On the sofa” can be used like “between the sheets” in fortune cookie lingo but it’s not a good phrase to describe your fitness.
This race made me feel as if I were “just off the sofa”. At least I’m headed in the right direction.
Snake Gap Creek is run on the PInhoti trail in Northwest Georgia. Being from GA I’ve ridden most of the trails, but not the Pinhoti. It opened up after I fled for WNC (Western North Carolina) in 2004.
The route was a 34 mile point to point race with about 4,000 feet of climbing, per some unknown rider on the bus who seemed to know what he was talking about with exception of the rocky section of trail near races end.
As a self designated “seasoned racer” I leave my mind open to all trail suggestions, hints, pointers, etc. however, I put those pointers in the back of my head until I get to the spot referenced then I make my own call on the particular spot. This occasion was no exception. On the bus ride to the start I heard so many descriptions of near death experiences on this “rocky section”. Also, it covers the last 6 or so miles of the course. I arrived at the rocky section and was thankful for my Pisgah home. Much gratitude went out to countess efforts on Pilot Rock Trail, Laurel Mountain Trail., Squirrel Gap and Farlow Gap Trail. The rocks were tricky but didn’t hold a candle to the Pisgah trails mentioned above. These trails prepared me well for this North Ga. Adventure.
I was uncertain how my legs would react to 34 miles of North Georgia trail. I’d only been on the mountain bike one time this year and that was a brief jaunt at Dupont State Forest. Thank heavens for the Tuesday/Thursday training classes at Sycamore in Hendersonville.
The race went well although it felt like I was towing my sofa. I guess in a way I was. It was just a smaller 15 pound version attached to my belly.
Hopefully I’ll make it to the March race, ten pounds lighter and with race ready legs.
The Pinhoti is a lot like 34 miles of Laurel Mountain Trail in Dupont State Forest. It was muddy and soggy on the day I raced but if it’s dry…hold on! The long drive is worth the effort and the race promoters do an excellent job.