Tuesday, June 10, 2008


So, for anyone who does not know, here is the story behind my bright pink hair. I have been coloring my hair for years. Sometimes blonde, black, red, even blue and purple. Everyone who knows me, knows that I may show up with a strange color at any time. Earlier this year my hair was blonde, so I put a couple pink streaks in the front. Nothing too outrageous, but noticeable anyway.
In May, I raced in the first Derailer race in Danville. I won in the Sport class. At the awards the Jolly Rogers were all standing together, Me, Allen, Jen, and Chris. They called the second place winner in my age group. He was the “hometown hero” according to the announcer. Then they called me for first place. Apparently when the second place guy got back to his friends, who were behind us, one of them laughed and said, “You got beat by a guy with pink hair”. I doubt that he was trying to be mean about it, or maybe he was, I don’t know. I do know that it struck Jen the wrong way. She told Allen and Chris, loud enough for the other guy to hear, I’m sure, “Get used to it, because you will be losing to him all year!” This is why I love having her as a friend. She speaks her mind and protects her friends. After hearing about all of this, I decided that I would make a statement out of it. I would dye all of my hair bright bubblegum pink!
As Allen said, “If you show up to race with pink hair, you had better kick ass!” So far that is what I am doing with two first place finishes and a second place, and a 12 point lead in the series. The reaction from other racers seems to overwhelmingly positive, maybe even intimidating to some. Everyone definitely knows who I am! Reactions from local rednecks are not as favorable. I did have a group of idiots in a big truck yell some stupid shit at me in the mall parking lot. I thought Jess was going to go hunt them down. I am used to people staring at me though. I have never been in the “normal” category. Nor would I want to be. I wear nail polish most days, not just black, but any color imaginable. And I have a lot of eyeliner and other make-up! I hate stereotypes and a society that wants to tell people how they should act and feel and what they should look like. I want to dress how “I” want to, and look how “I” want to, not the way others think I should.(Punk rock is not dead!) It’s as ridiculous as thinking that an exclusively two party system will always work in government, but that’s another rant.
Anyway, that’s how the pink hair was inspired by a mountain bike race. Watch out in the Fall mountainbikers… the pink haired devil is coming for you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday, 7:00 AM, it was already well above 80 degrees. I met Allen at the Wingate for a Candler's Mtn. training ride. I had not ridden since the Blackwater group ride at Candler's on Wednesday. It was miserably hot then too. Today was going to be a short one hour ride with a lot of long steep climbs planned. We took off for our warm-up trail, Candler's Climb. Then down the Lake Trail. Up the fire road to Raccoon Alley and on to many of our favorite climbs. Near the top on one climb, we crossed a new access road. We took way out to the backside of the mountain and tied into the perimeter loop. We followed the perimeter to the lake and took the Bridge Trail out. Our hour ride turned into a two and a half hour burn. But that's good. I need to step up my training over the Summer. I know that there will be more than a few people gunning for me in the second half of the Derailer Series. I say "Bring It On!" I have a 12 point lead and I am going to work as hard as possible to get stronger before September.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jersey Boy

A few weeks ago, after winning at Danville, Brandon at Bikes Unlimited gave me one of their jerseys to wear at the races. I have always done most of my business with Bikes. Mostly because that was the first place I looked when I decided to buy a real mountainbike in 2001. I picked out a Fuel and fell in love with it. I try not to be exclusive though. Davy at Blackwater Bikes is a great guy, and if he has something better or cheaper, I don't hesitate to go buy from him. But back to the point. Last week, Bob (aka Triffid) mentioned to Tyler that he had a jersey riding on his kid's race at Peaks View. I thought that he was most likely he was kidding, but of course being an 11 year old, Tyler took it seriously. On Sunday, Tyler did win the kid's race. So last night, before our ride, Tyler and I stopped by Bikes so he could "collect". I told him not to get too hopefull. When we walked in, we found Bob and talked for a minute. Brandon had gone straight to the jersey rack and came over with an X-small jersey and told Tyler to try it on. It was a perfect fit! Brandon said "There you go, congrats".I think Tyler almost fell out in te floor. I did too, I had no idea that they were going to give him a BU jersey. He decided on Sunday that his goal is to race in the Novice class in the Rocky Mount race in September. I am very proud of him for having the drive and determination to race.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Peaks View Park race 08

Sunday was the third event in the Virginia Derailler Series. I was going into this race with an 8 point lead in my class. I was very nervous about this race. Peaksview usually draws a large crowd. When I went to bed Saturday night, I laid awake for at least an hour with the track playing out in my head. I felt like there was a lot riding on this race. It's a hometown race and I wanted to prove myself.
It was a beautiful day. With no rain the night before, the course would be fast. We set up Camp Jolly Roger in the infield of the soccer field that we would be riding around. While I was out getting warmed up, Tyler raced in the kid's race. He easily won. Now he wants to train with me over the summer and race in the Novice class in Rock Mount! I think that rocks! I know that he can do it, as long as he commits to the hard work. I am very pround of him.
After a brief racers' meeting, we all headed down the pavement for half a mile to the start area. Soon the experts were heading off. Then the 18-35 Sport and the Singlespeeds. I was next. I usually like to sprint at the start and try to get a lead on the competition. So at the word "go", I was off and sprinting. There was someone right there with me. Eventually he fell in behind me. After the half mile road we had to circle the soccer field through the rough grass. As I curved off the pavement, I was surprised to see that there were three people drafting behind me. Believe it or not, drafting can play a big part, even on a mountainbike. Churning through the grass, all three riders passed me. My plan of being first into the woods, turned into being fourth. I had my work cut out for me.
The three rider were cruising fairly fast, so I made no attempt to pass until guy in front of me began to slow down. I passed him right before RockPile. Then there were two. I followed them into Steve's Bowl-a-Rama. Near the top, the rider in front of me mis-shifted, which gave me time to slip by. Then there was one. The last rider between me and the lead was the winner in Bedford. He is very fast, but not very familiar with PVP. We had pulled away from the other riders as we began the climb on Squeeze. Almost at the top, there is a choice to be made. Go right and have a smooth path around a fallen tree, or go left and hop over the tree that has many chainring grooves in it. The rider in front of me chose right. I chose left and merged back onto the trail before him. From then on I slowly pulled away from him. By the time I hit Cyclone, he was nowhere in sight. Now it was time to pass the younger Sport riders and some SingleSpeeders. I was riding hard and on Bottom-Out, I caught up with Brandon. He let me pass. Next I saw Allen. He was running a strong race. I knew that he was ahead of Warren already. The last thing I wanted to do was to make him slow down to let me by. All he had to say was "Shake and Bake! I'll go right, you go left, you know where!" I knew exactly what he meant. We were coming up on another short split in the trail with two quick dips and steep climbs on the other side. Going left would give me the shorter route, but would not make Allen lose any momentum. It was perfect, soon I was out on the pavement again, heading for the halfway point.
Heading around the field and back into the woods, I was feeling pretty good. I was still catching some Sport riders and some Experts too. Right before Steve's, I ate some of my homemade gel. On Squeeze, I noticed that my gel bottle had fallen off the bike. Luckily, Chris had given me an extra Hammergel before the race. Right before Squeeze, I caught the last of the Sport riders. This guy is very fast. He destroyed everyone in Bedford. He asked me what group I was in. Then I noticed that he had no seat! Apparently his frame somehow broke at the seatpost on the first lap. Now he was riding his second lap in a standing position. I stayed behind him for a while, then passed him on Cyclone. He was able to hold on to first place in the 18-35 group. He had to be hurting. It was pretty amazing.
The last few trails, I was going just fast enough to stay in the lead. When I hit the pavement for the last time, I put it in the "big" ring in the front, hunkered down to get more aerodynamic, and pushed for the finish. I knew that I had first place when I saw the finish and no one was in sight behind me. After I crossed the line, I had just enough energy to pedal over to Camp Jolly Roger and fall onto the ground.
Chris was already there. He placed sixth in Novice. Soon after I finished, Allen came rolling in. He pulled out an impressive second place in SingleSpeed. Then Jen came in with a third place finish. It was a great day! Everyone did well. None of it would happen for me though if it was not for the support of my lovely Pirate Wench, Jess! She is always by my side at the races, supporting me and all of the other Jolly Rogers. Not only does she come to all the races that she can, she always encourages me to go out and train. She knows how important mountainbiking is to me. Therefore it is important to her. Thank you so much Jess! I love you!
Now there is a three month break until the Rocky Mount race. I have a 12 point lead in my class. I want to find some filer races. Carvin's Cove is definately on the list. Crongatulation to everyone who raced on Sunday. The friendships developed at these races are very important to me. From all the people in the Jolly Roger crew to new friends like Warren and Paula, Colton, and all the others. See you on the high seas! HOIST THE COLOURS!

Friday, May 30, 2008

TOUCHDOWN!!!!! May 26,2008


No, I'm not talking about a bunch of overpaid "athletes" playing a commercialized, overhyped game. I'm talking about a great achievement for NASA. Last night, around 7:45 PM EST, the Phoenix Lander made a perfect rocket assisted landing in Northern Artic region of Mars.
It started in 2002, when NASA decided to make a smaller, more affordable spacecraft to send to Mars. It was built using some parts from a cancelled mission after a larger craft was lost while trying to enter Mars atmosphere. The 400+ pound Phoenix lander was launched on August 4, 2007 and had a 422 million mile, 10 month journey to Mars.
Just getting from Earth to Mars is a technological marvel. The mathematics and physics are staggering. The spacecraft has to perform flawlessly. A fraction of a degree in trajectory or a fraction of a second in timing would either send the lander crashing directly into the surface or it could miss completely and be lost in space forever. But, that is really the easy part. Once it arrived near Mars, the craft had to enter the atmosphere on tangent and slow from 12000 mph to a dead stop landing in only a few minutes. After using the atmosphere resistance for primary slowing, protected by a heat sheild, it deployed a high speed parachuteat Mach 1.7. Three minutes later, Phoenix separated from the chute and was in free-fall until 12 rocket motors engaged. These steadied and slowed the craft until it finally touched the Martian surface.
Now scientists had to wait 20 minutes for the dust to clear before the solar panels could be deployed. If the panels were damaged or would not open, the craft would only last a day before the batteries and the mission would die. Fortunately, the solar panels opened perfectly. Now, Phoenix can begin it's mission. It is not a rover, like Spirit and Opportunity. Instead, it will dig down into the ground in search of water ice, expected to be within a meter of the surface. Scientists believe that there are large volumes of ice underground on Mars and that it once flowed on the surface. When water is present with high amounts of carbonates, the chances that life may have existed, increases. We are talking about little green men, but if bacterial fossils are ever found, it would have far reaching implications for us. If life could develope on 2 separate planets in 1 solar system, then given the incredible number of stars and systems similar to ours in the universe, life would almost certainly be there too.
Phoenix will also track ancient climate changes and provide information that will be usefull for future manned missions to Mars. Here is the link to the NASA webpage for Phoenix. It has already begun sending pictures from the surface.

Fat Tire Frenzy May 17,2008

Today was the second installment in the Virginia Derailer Mountainbike Series. It was held at Falling Creek Park in Bedford. It is a great place to ride and race, with plenty of challenges. Last year after being in Japan for two weeks and having jet-lag, I thought this course would be the death of me. I found out this year that it was not just the jet-lag.
We arrived early, before 9am, so we could set up the pirate tent, get registered, and warm up. Last night, Tyler decided that he wanted to do the kid's race. There were probably 8 or 9 in his group. At the start, he was battling one girl about his size. By the second lap, he was struggling a bit. At the end he came in third. Jess and I are very proud of him. I think that he really enjoyed it.
Now it was time for our race, so we all coasted down the hill to the bottom of the field. The experts started first in three waves by age group. Then, for some reason, they started all of the Sport, Singlespeed, and Clydesdale class at once. It was a huge group, maybe 40 to 50 people. My usual strategy is to break out to the front and get a quick lead. It would be tough with so many people starting at one time. Not to mention that the first 0.4 mile. was in the speed robbing grass and uphill. As we started up the hill I was in the lead group. I stood up and pushed hard. When I hit the shoet paved section I was in the lead and entered the singletrack first. This is where I almost used up all of my energy. The first few trails have some tough short climbs that sap strength. About a third of the way in, I clipped a tree with my shoulder and hit the ground, not hard but enough to shake me up a bit. On the backside trails, I was hurting. I got passed by 4 people. I kept up with the last one and passed him around mile 6. Finally I was at the finish line, but that only meant that I had another lap to do. Time to climb the grassy hill again, only a little shorter. I had been following Josh Gilbert for about three miles. After entering the singletrack again, he pulled away and I could not catch him. the second lap was not as bad as the first. I was alone for most of it. The last few miles, I kept seeing someone behind me. A good ways back, but still a threat. I had to keep pushing. When I came into the field and saw the finish, I knew that he could not catch me. After finishing, I realized how bad my chest was hurting. It eased up after a few minutes, but it seems that this course hurts me every year.
The thing about racing is that someone has to win. Today, it was not me, but I did come in second in my class, the largest one. I am very happy with that. Allen had a great day too, finishing third in Singlespeed. Jen won her class with an exciting finish. All in all it was a great day. All of my friends placed, Tyler placed, and Jess was there too, giving me support.
Kenny Palmer always runs a good race. Now it's time to get ready for Peaksview in two weeks. Congratulations to everyone who raced today!

Super Weekend May 5,2008

So this was the big weekend. The first Derailer race on Saturday and the second XXC on Sunday. I really did not know what to expect from either race.
Saturday morning I loaded up my gear, picked up Allen, and met Chris at his house. We packed everything into Chris's jeep and we were off for Danville. Jimmy was driving down later. He had to leave after the race to go to work. We arrived with about an hour and a half to set up and warm up. Of course we flew the Jolly Roger flags from our canopy. Jen showed up soon after. We all got registered. Jen was racing Sport, Allen raced Singlespeed, Chris and Jimmy raced Novice, and I raced Sport. Soon it was time to line up and get ready to go. The experts started at 11:00. My group left at 11:06. I sprinted from the start to try to get close to the front going into the woods. There was a short gravel road before the singletrack. As we neared the entrance, I looked over to see that 3 riders were stacked up end to end on my right. I did not want to fall back to fourth, so I pushed harder and got the lead. Just inside the woods there were 3 or 4 quick, deep rollercoaster sections back to back. having rode the course last week, i knew that I could hit them hard. When the trail flattened a little, I was a good 50 yards ahead. Soon after, we all got stuck behind two 18-35 Sport riders who had left a minute before us and were very slow. We all stacked up behind them until they finally pulled over to let everyone pass. With the pack breathing down my back I pushed hard for a couple miles until they were no longer in sight. This is my usual strategy, get a good lead and then maintain it. I felt good through most of the race. The next thing that I knew, I had been going for over an hour and I knew that there was not too much more. I had pass many younger Sport riders and some SS riders (Shake and Bake!) :). There was a rider ahead of me that I just could not catch. I was getting tired on the last mile or two. When I came out into the field, I saw two riders sprinting for the finish. I came in soon after. Within a few minutes Allen was finishing. I knew that I had won my age group. I went and got my camera so I could get some video of Jen, Jimmy and Chris finishing. I was so surprised and happy. I had no idea that I could do so well in Sport. Allen pulled out a fourth place finish in SS, which is an open class that draws many expert riders. Jen came in third. Jimmy got third and Chris got fourth in Novice. Great job to all my friends! As it turns out, I had another surprise coming. The two rider that I saw sprinting at the end, were the top two in 18-35 Sport. I finished 30 seconds behind them, but they started 1 minute before me. That meant that I had a faster time. I had the fastest time of all the Sport riders. I could have died from shock. Unfortunately the race organizers got mixed up on the times and gave my overall trophy to someone else, but after finding their mistake. They are going to send my trophy to me. It was a great day. Now I need to back it up in Bedford in two weeks. I going to try not to put too much pressure on myself. I am just going to ride hard and see what happens.
As if that was not enough. Early Sunday morning, I picked up Allen again and we headed off to Douthat State Park to tacked the XXC race. This race was the second in the Virginia State Championship Double XC series. It started at 9:30 and ended after riding 41 miles through some of the most beautiful trails that I have seen. The first 5 miles was steady climb to the top of Middle Mountain. We soon broke off from the Sport/Expert loop and went way out into the National Forest. Allen and I had decided to ride together to keep each other motivated. About 10 miles in I had to fix a flat tire. Allen waited for me. Then before the halfway point, I was starting to bonk. After reating a bit and eating some solid food, I was starting to feel better. The trail were awesome. So much more ridable than Dragon's Back. There were still a lot of hike-a-bikes, but overall they were way better. The downhills were long and fast. Even though we slid through some switchbacks, neither of us wrecked. There were some spectacular views from the ridgelines. We were finally nearing the end. Both of us were spent. We were almost out of water, after refilling once, and the last short climb felt like the ealier huge mountains. We came in to the finish with a sprint and crossed the line at the same time. It had been 41 miles, 8400 feet of vertical climbing, and 7 hours worth of riding. It was a great accomplishment. Congratulations to Kelly, Julie, Jason, Shawn, and his wife for doing the XXC too. And Davy, who has two second place finishes in the Sport division, putting him in first overall with one race to go.
I feel extremely accomplished. After a surprising Derailer finish, we completed an ultra endurance race. Apparently, I am getting noticed. This evening, while talking to Brandon at Bikes Unlimited, he gave me a BU jersey to wear at some of the races. I'll wear a free jersey and advertise for them, and it has Trek on it. But at the same time, if Blackackwater has something I like, I will buy it from Davy. There are good people in both shops. The only down-side to the weekend was that I did not see Jess and Tyler much. I missed them.
Bedford is on the way and it's time to ride!

Angel's Race April 13, 2008

As sit on the couch tonight, I feel good because I can say that I have completed a triathlon! And I don't feel too worn out. A little sore, but not bad.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I had a cup of coffee and the scrambled egg bagels I had fixed last night. My transition bag was packed so I put in the car and mounted by road bike on the roof rack. I wanted to be at the Y by 6:30 so I could set up my area and get a feel for the bike and run exits. When I walked in, there were at least a hundred people already set up. After I set out my stuff and racked my bike, I went over and picked up my timing chip. In order to keep up with everyone's time, we put radio frequency transmitters around our ankles. As you pass over each timing mat, located before and after each section, your time is automatically recorded. After dropping me off earlier, Jess got back in time to hang out with me before my start time. Soon after her parents got there and then Allen.
I soon had to go in and line up for me swim start. Holy Crap! The swim was very hard. I had been swimming some over that last few months and I was pretty far back in the field. But I still struggled. After a lap and a half, I was having to stop at the ends to rest and catch my breath. I was passed by at least four people in the pool. Finally after about eight and a half minutes, I got out of the pool. I almost slipped on the tile floor, but recovered. My transition was pretty smooth. I had a little trouble getting the socks onto my wet feet. My shoes and helmet were on next and I was off.
After unracking the bike I had to run with it about 100 yards before I could get on and pedal. Luckily I use mountain bike shoes with cleats. I saw a couple people slip and bust their ass because of the clunky road shoes. After I got on the bike, there was a series of sharp turns through downtown. Jess and the crew were at the second turn. I barely noticed them, I was concentrating and the turn and not crashing. Soon I was on the John Lynch bridge. They had a whole lane blocked off to traffic for us. The toughest part going out was on River Road, after pasing King's Road, there is a fairly long climb up to the railroad tracks. After that the road is narrow and curvy, with quick ups and downs. While on River Road, I must have passed about 25 to 30 people. The one's that were so much faster in the pool were not falling behind me. There is a very steep climb up to the bridge. After a quick trip back across the bridge, I had to climb back up through downtown. I was up, out of the saddle. When I got to the dismount area, I unclipped my left foot while I was still rolling, but my right would not come out. Finally, it came loose as the bike flew sideways. I almost fell, but I collected myself and ran to my rack.
I switched shoes, dropped my helmet, and took off running. My legs felt like jello. After riding so far, my legs were used to a slower cadence. I couldn't stop though, too many people watching and cheering. I realized that I had not taken off my gloves. So as I passed my cheering section, I tossed them to Allen. My legs started to loosen up, but it was still hurting. The turn around, past the tunnel on Blackwater Trail, was a welcome site. I think that I passed 6 or 7 people on the run. Coming up the two blocks of Hell, back to Main Street, was brutal! I had to walk some of it. I reached down and found a way to drag myself to the top. Coming down Main was incredible. People were all along the sides, yelling and clapping. The last block was packed. I saw Jess there and heard my name on the loudspeaker, so I had to pick up the pace for the finish. It was such a good feeling to cross the line. Everyone was there, Jess, Allen, Jess's parents, and Chris, Morgan, and Cashion came out for the end.
All in all, it was a great experience. I had a great time. The people were great. Everyone was friendly and supportive. The weather wasn't to bad for the competitors. The spectators were freezing. The only time that I felt cold was when I first came outside from the pool, but I quickly warmed up on the bike. I will post my times as soon as they are available online. I know that the bike was my best section. I may have to try some road races sometime this year. If I can find time! Pictures and video will be up soon too.

The results are in from the Angel's Race Triathlon. When I decided, pretty much on a whim, to do this race, I just wanted to finish a triathlon. As the time drew near and I had a little swimming and running under my belt, I was confident that I would finish, so I set my sights on not being lw in the pack. I ended up performing better than I thought I would. My total time was 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 17 seconds! That put me 78th overall for men and 90th overall for everyone. On top of that, only 8 of the 46 relay teams had better times.
Of course my slowest compared time was the swim. I had a time of 9 min. and 5 seconds. The fastest was 4 min. and 2 seconds. My time put my rank after the swim at 183rd. My transition times were fairly average. When I got on the bike, I felt at home. My total bike time was 46 min.. and 10 seconds. That put me 31th overall for men and 32nd overall for all individuals for the bike section. Only two people on relay teams beat my bike time and they were fresh. My run time was about average too. Maybe a little faster.
If I were to really get into triathlons, I would really need to work on swimming. If I had a 5 minute swim time, I would placed around 50th. But I am not a swimmer. Running is not too bad and I will continue to run a couple times a week. I really think that it helps my biking stamina.
I feel like gave my best and I am happy with my results. Plus it was just a really good time. I hope to see more people I know next year. Yes I am doing it again. I'm just glad that the swim is first. If it was last, I might drown.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

I knew that taking on the Dragon’s Back would be a huge challenge. I knew it would be extremely difficult and painful. It turns out that it was the hardest thing that I have ever done, physically and mentally.
The Best of Times
The terrain was absolutely beautiful. When we were driving to the race, the mountain ridge we would be riding was shrouded in clouds and fog. The turn out for this race was incredible. 50 racers, just in the XXC. I don’t know how many showed up for the regular races. The race started like a huge group ride. Of course a lot of the pros were gone from the start. I got into an early groove and moved along the 4 mile dirt and mud road fairly quick. Once on top of the ridge, everything became very surreal. We were literally up in the clouds. Some places you could only see about 100 feet ahead. All of the descriptions about the rocky terrain, did not do it justice. This trail was originally part of the Appalachian Trail, so many areas were not very bike friendly. Even with the clouds and mist, there were some great views. On some of the narrow ridges, there was the foot wide trail, one or two feet of rock on either side, then a steep, steep drop on both sides. Kind of scary, but epic to experience. there are no trails near Lynchburg that can even compare. The downhills lasted forever and were incredibly fun.
The Worst of Times
As epic as the ridgeline was, the climb to it was rediculous. It was basically a two mile hike-a-bike. Even on the ridge, there were a lot of areas where I had to push the bike. Sometimes because of steep climbs, but mostly because of rock gardens. This trail would be great for hiking. But on on bike, the sharp, jagged rocks, that pointed toward the sky, were unridable in some areas. The trail was mostly clear, but leaves were packed in places up to a foot and a half deep. Clogging my derailler cogs and sometimes hiding huge rocks. At one point, I was coming down a short rock garden, when my front wheel caught a tall rock and turned sharply. I went over the handle bars. As I was nearing the ground, I saw that I was going to land on more rocks. I tried to turn my head so that my helmet would take the impact. It took most of it, but I was left with a half inch scrape on my right cheek. It felt like an eternity on that ridge. I kept thinking that the next downhill would be the one that went to the road that lead back to the start area. Finally I found the road. Now is was a long haul back to the start. The road was not too bad at first, except for the sections that had the large gravel that shook the crap out of me and the bike. There were about 10 or so creek crossings on this road. It was already cold out and at least 6 or 7 of these crossings were at least a foot deep. Swollen from the night’s rain. Everytime my feet would start to dry and warm back up, I had to get soaked again. There was a long climb back to the start area. I was glad to see that Jess and Tyler were there when I came through. I stopped for moment to talk to them. Then headed off to finish the last 8 or 9 miles. The second climb to the ridge was another hike-a-bike. It was worst this time due to fatigue. The huge camelbak, that I barrowed from Chris was packed heavy with tools and supplies. My shoulders were killing me. But I needed everything that I had, incase of a breakdown.
The last singletrack downhill was great. It gave me a boost, more mentally than physically. When I was on the ridge before, I was so ready to be done with this race. This race will drain every bit of drive out of you. After the ring of fire, which was not bad at all, I had about 3 miles of road to the finish. Luckily, the last mile was mostly downhill. As I rounded the small loop at the finish, I felt so good. I had finally made it!
It had been a long gruelling trip. Filled with highs and lows in elevation and spirits. Even with 50 people on the course, there was about 2 and a half hours that I was completely alone. No one in sight in front of me or behind me. It was kinda of calming and lonely at the same time. I think that I finished somewhere around 40th. after 6 and a half hours, but more importantly, I gave everything that I had. I am so glad that I went to this race. The physical and spiritual strain will make me stronger. Everyone there has my upmost respect.
In the end, after 6 and a half hours of riding, I had consumed 2 Snickers Protein bars, 3 hammer gels, 2 and a half liters of water, and a large water bottle of gatorade.
I don’t think that I conquered that dragon, but I did survive it, and I will be back for more. After starting in Novice class last year, and riding Dragon’s back this year, I think that I have come a long way. But there is always further to go. Luckily, I have a great wife, who supports me and urges me on. Thank you Jess.
Now that the dragon is gone, it’s time to look ahead. I have the Angel’s Race on Sunday, the Derailer races, and the Shenandoah 100 this year.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


The time draws near. The time for action, the time for pain. I feel the beast's hot breath on my neck. It's waiting for me, waiting for me to challenge it...
Dragon's Back is almost here. The first race of the year, and one of the most dificult and intense. 35 miles of steep mountain sides, nearly immposible switchbacks, and sharp, jagged rocks everywhere. This is a challenge that I do not take lightly. The possibility of injury and bike carnage is high. I am trying to prepare for anything. I will be carrying all the food, tools, and spare parts neccessary, within reasonable weight limits, of course. I do not care that much about placing at the top in this race. This type of endurance race usually attacts high end racers. I do not want to be at the bottom though. Last year, only 13 people entered, 11 finished. So even a middle of the pack finish could place me in the top 5 or so. But this more about finishing and proving to myself that I can do it. Which is the same reason that I am doing the triathlon one week later. More about that to come.
Hold on Bilbo! help is on the way!!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ice Axes and Crampons

Standard cold weather mountainbiking equipment includes; long insulated riding tights, underarmour shirt, long sleeve jersey, two pairs of socks, neoprene shoe covers, good thick gloves, earmuffs, and maybe a jacket. This morning at Candler's, it would have been helpfull to have some extreme mountaineering equipment too. It started out fine, a little mucky, but managable. As we began getting to the areas less visited by the sun, the trail was glazed over with a thin layer of ice covering about an inch or so of snow. Traction was not too big of a problem, when the front wheel would break the ice, the snow gave some much needed grip. The problem was that it felt like riding trough wet concrete. Switchbacks were almost impossible and normal hills felt like mountains. We took a couple of trails that appeared to be relatively clear, only to find the steep sections were covered. Just walking up these icy traverses while pushing a bike was very strenous.
With all that said, we were still out at 7am on Saturday morning, mountainbiking with great friends. So it was a good day! I am wanting for Spring though.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Angel's Race

I am either a glutten for punishment, insane, or just easily bored. I am getting ready to sign up for the Angel's Race on April 13th. It is a sprint level triathlon! 300 meter swim, 25k bike, and 5k run. The bike section should not be too bad. Running is tough, and as I have found out by going to the Y some mornings, swimming is very intense. So I welcome anyone who will come out and compete with me, or at least cheer me on. I have a lot of training to do between mountain bike rides! I will expand more about this later. I just wanted to write a quick blog.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Single Speed Epic

It's time to start training for the first race of the year. It's an XXC race. So instead of 20 miles on the Dragon's Back, a very challenging and rough course, it is 35 miles with an 8 hour time limit. It will be an accomplishment just to finish.
To start training, Allen and I decided to ride at Peaksview and do 4 race laps. That's about 28 miles. Start out easy, right? We began at 10:25. The temp was about 30 degrees, so every thing was still frozen. We wanted to see how far we could go without stopping at all. We made a bet, who ever called a break first would buy protein shakes after the ride. After 1 and a quarter laps, Allen finally called a break. We ended up taking 1 break per lap, except for the last lap. We were both shredded by then.
By the third lap, the ice was turning into mud. The fourth lap was a mess. Sticky slimey mud was everywhere. The whole day was done at a medium pace, not slow, but not at race speed either. By the time we exited lap 4, I had nothing left.
It was a great training day. I have not been worked that hard in a long time. I felt very good about myself today. Tommorow we are leading a ride for some people from Roanoke at Candler's. If someone told me that I would someday be using Candler's as a recovery ride, I would have probably just laughed. Soon we will be stepping it up to 5 laps, yea!


The FROTY, the First Ride Of The Year. Something that I had never heard of until this winter and probably would not have done until this year. It takes place in Carvin's Cove, which supplies Roanoke with fresh water. None of us, Chris, Allen, Jimmy, or myself had ridden there. Our friend Jen rides there often and met us to show us the way.
I love all the Derailler trails (except the hillclimb, which is not a mountainbike trail) and Candler's beats them all. But after one day, Carvin's Cove has become my favorite mountainbiking destination. We did not even ride half of the trails there. Even what we rode, had a little of everything: fast smooth and swooping, rocks, creek croosings, large log crossings, long climbs, and whoop-dee-doos that can easily give you some hang time.
Everyone had a wonderful time. There were a lot of fellow mountainbikers out in the cold. It was not too bad at first, somewhere in the low 40's. But the combination of high winds, wet feet from the creek crossings, and the setting sun, made it a very cold ride. It could not dampen the joy of the day though.
I can not wait to go back to the Cove. Thank you Jen, for guiding our ride. Good friends. Good times. What a great way to start the new year!

The Perfect Ride?

The perfect ride is something all cyclists search for. That magical ride when everything clicks. Great weather, well maintained trails, good friends, and the abilty to overcome all challenges in front of you, all help to create the perfect ride. Unfortunately, there is no absolute "perfect" ride. What we hope to achieve, is to get as close as we can to this cycling Nirvana. I have a good ride every time I hit the trails, but this weekend was exceptional. It was very close to our goal of perfection. Of course it was not perfect. There were crashes, some slick and sticky mud, and a bit of a chill Saturday morning, but overall, I had a wonderful time on my bikes this weekend.
It started Saturday morning. I met Chris and Allen at peakview park at 7:00 AM. This is after getting home past midnight from a business trip to Kentucky Friday night. It was prety cold that morning, but after getting into the woods you warm up quick. Unfortunately, Chris could only ride for about 50 minutes. So after 5 or 6 miles Allen and I decided we would ride out with Chris, pack up, and head to Falling Creek Park in Bedford. We arrived around 9 and started the race loop. Some of trails have changed because of some clearing going on there, but we quickly got our bearing and pushed on. There was a lot of slippery mud on the first few trails, that introduced both of us to the ground a couple of times. I was riding my newer Fuel, but I was steadfast in forcing myself to ride it like a singlespeed. I never shifted the entire day. We ended up doing 2 laps, for a grand total of 20 miles for the day! Everything felt good, I was climbing well and had no problems on log pyramids or technical dowhills. It was a great day for mountainbiking, so we decided to do it again on Sunday on Candler's.
This time I brought out the MonoFuel. I had some chain popping the last time I rode it with my new design. But, after a tension spring change, It is working excellent again. I met Allen and Jimmy at the Wingate hotel at 2:30. We decided to do our normal 9+ mile loop backwards. That means a long hard climb from the start. Once again everything clicked. I was feeling great. All of the technical challenges were passed one by one. Allen and Jimmy were having good days too. We kept up a steady pace through the whole ride until the end. Then on the last mile or so, Allen and I kicked it up to race speed. It feels good when you give every ounce of strength and willpower to push yourself to the limit and beyond. When we reached the end, I had absolutely nothing left.
This weekend reminds me why I love cycling. That elusive time when the stars allign and you ride for the sheer love of the sport. Good rides frequently come and go. Great ones should be cherished.

Cycling Creation

Mountainbiking purists will tell you that the best way to really experience all that mountainbiking has to offer is to ride a fully ridgid single speed. That means no front suspension, ne rear suspension, and only one gear. Many single speeders out there will use a front suspension though. Without the worry of which gear you should be in, you concentrate on just riding. My friend Allen recently converted his hardtail bike to a single speed, not so much by choice, but more as a result of destroying his rear derailleur on Candler's Mountain. Now he loves it. So given my competitive nature, I started looking at my options for building one. Unfortunately, I do not have a hardtail bike or the money to buy one. All I have are 2 Trek Fuels. The problem, because the chain length changes when the rear suspension moves, it is very difficult to keep the correct tension. I've seen 1 production bike from Kona that was a full suspension single speed and no one makes a conversion kit specifically for full suspensions. The solution? Design and build my own. Then I decided that I was not going to spend a dime, so I also designed the sprocket and spacers. I have yet to try it out on the trail, but riding it aroung the house, it seems to work great. Check out the pictures in the Single Speed album. I love making things work that other people say can't work!