Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Ride, Jan 30, 2010

   Every Saturday we have a Dire Wolf race team training ride. This week the forcast called for heavy snow. Not the ideal conditions for road biking. Many team members were going to Snap Fitness to do some spin class style training. I absolutely hate spinning! I can't spin and spin and not go anywhere. My plan was to take the mountain bike up to Candler's Mountain. A few inches of snow would make for a fun ride. When I woke up Saturday morning, there was already 6-7 inches on the ground and still pouring snow. My friend Allen was planning on riding to my house and then we would drive up to Candler's. So I suggested we just meet somewhere and ride aound Lynchburg. The snow was getting way too deep to ride singletrack.
   We decided to meet at Sheetz. The temperature when I left the house was 20 degrees! I had many layers on and my was using my snowboarding gloves. Since I ride a single speed bike I would not have to worry about shifting. My road had not been scraped, only a set of tracks. Trying to ride in these tracks was very hard. If you vere into the deep snow, you stop immediately. Lakeside Drive had been scraped and was much easier to ride on. Not much traffic. A few vehicles here and there. When I got to Sheetz, Allen was waiting. We rode up to the building, as I tried to hop over the snow bank, my front wheel landed on the curb buried in the snow and I instantly went over the handlebars. It was hilarious. The best thing about riding in the snow is that crashes don't hurt as much.
   We left Sheetz and headed down 221 toward Graves Mill. After a quick stop to talk to Davy at Blackwater Bike Shop, we were on our way to Wyndhurst. Across the street from Food Lion there was a car stuck in the entrance to a parking lot. We decided to stop and help. After a couple tries with the help of the passengers, we were able to get the car unstuck. Back on our way. Enterprise Drive had been plowed, but still had a lot of loose snow. The going was tough here. Especially the long steep climb past the YMCA. Halfway through Wyndhurst there was another car stuck, this time in an intersection. We stopped again and got this motorist on his way.
   Timberlake Road was a liitle busier but easier to pedal on. The temperature was now in the teens and it was taking it's toll. So we decided to stop into the Shell station and warm up a bit. Inside, the lure of the mega sized microwave burrito was too great and we each had one with a coke. Now we were refueled, warmed up, and ready to continue. Our next stop was the Exxon at Leesville Road. As we crossed the intersection, Allen's chain snapped. Luckily he had extra links and tools. Soon we were ready to travel again.
   Now on Fort Avenue, across the street from Advance Auto parts, there was a minivan stuck. This was stuck good. It took us, an Advance employee, and a couple friends who happened to be in Advance to set it free. Our friends said they saw two cyclists across the street and knew there were only two guys who would be riding in that weather. haha  Next we were heading down Fort Avenue. We cut across Oakley Ave. and planned to stop at the Exxon there. As we came up to the intersection, a car was spinning trying to get up the hill on the other side. A group of 4 or 5  people pushed the car for about 10 feet then walked away. We pedalled over and pushed him the rest of the way. After warming up for a few minutes, we were ready to make the last push to my house.
    Oakley Ave. was very difficult to ride. Once on Lakeside, it was a little easier, but the constant snow had buily up and was making the climb up from Lynchburg College a killer. Finally we made to my house. We stayed inside for about an hour thawing out. The shot of whiskey we had helped. :)  Now Allen had to ride back to his house, off Old Forest Rd. So I decide to ride with him halfway back, so our mileage for the day would be the same.
   In total we road about 15 miles in 4 hours. By no means a speed record, but the effort made it feel like 60 miles. In the process, we helped 4 people get their cars unstuck. Hopefully, Karma will pay me back. This was the best ride I've had in a very long time. It was so much fun! And all the blank, unbelieving stares we got were hilarious. There will definitely be a repeat of this ride if we get another big snow!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Monday was an unusually warm day for the end of January. It was in the upper 50's by Noon. It happened that my day off from work was the same day. Sunny warm day and no work equals bike ride! The mountain bike was out of the question. Heavy rains on Sunday had soaked all the trails. So I decided to pack up the road bike and head to the Parkway. I drove out 501, through Big Island, to the James River Park. On the bike, I began the long 13 mile ascent of 3350' to the highest point on the Parkway in Virgina, Apple Orchard Mountain. I was very warm with my Underarmor shirt, short sleeve jersey, and regular riding shorts.

After passing Petite's Gap, I saw the gate that closes off this section of the Parkway during the winter. Of course I went around it and continued on. Another mile or so up and saw a rider ahead of me. I gaining quickly. After catching up with him and talking a while, I found out that he was from Amherst and was riding after a 6 mile run earlier. He was probably in his mid 50's. Very impressive. I said goodbye and pulled away. Soon I was nearing the Thunder Ridge overlook. Snow was still piled along the edge of the road. Around one curve, there was a huge boulder, about 8 feet in diameter, in the road. It had broke free from the hill side and crashed through the payement. I would hate to be the road crew that has to remove it.

Finally I got to the turn-around point. The entrance to the radar station on Apple Orchard Mtn. Since I had brought a camera, I decided to climb another 250 feet up the steep access road to the station. Once on top I found a group of rocks that would be the highest point for many, many miles in any direction. After taking pictures, I realized that as the sweat from the climb was evaporating, I was getting very cold. As I hopped on the bike and started down the access road, I was beginning to shiver. The temperature was probably in the mid to upper 30's at best. Now for 13 miles of decending. I really believe that hyperthermia was not far away. Luckily the air was getting warmer and warmer the further down I went.

Overall it was a great ride. I had considered climbing it twice, but after getting so cold, I was done after one.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Beef Bourguinon

    In the movie Julie and Julia, Julie was prparing all 375 recipes in Julia Child's French Cooking book, over the course of one year. One of the most difficult recipes was the Beef Bourguinon. It is basically a French pot roast, but like many French dishes, it is very complicated. The beef is cubed and seared, then braised in red wine. It has carrots, pearl onions, bacon any many more ingredients that all slow cook together with the beef to make a slightly thick sauce. The whole cooking time is nearly 5 hours. Jess's mother is a fantastic cook and after watching the movie, she decided to give this recipe a try. In total, it was two days of work, with all the prep time. It was worth every minute. What she ended up with was some of the most tender, flavorful beef I have every eaten! Served with rice, homemade garlic bread, and a nice glass of Shiraz, it was the perfect meal. Julia Child would be proud and so were we. After all the work that went into it, Jennifer said this would be the only time that she made it. I have a feeling though, that we have eventually have it again. If she doesn't make it, I will!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cycling 2010

   This year is shaping up to be a busy one for racing. Now that I am on the Dire Wolf Racing team, I will be adding road races to my schedule. No road races are set in stone yet, but I'm sure there will be some crits, some time trials, and some distance races. Of course there will be mountain bike races too. One that will definitely be a team effort, is the 24 Hour Burn. Someday I will go back and try  it solo again, but it will be so much more fun on a team. I have already signed up for all there races in the Bedford Mountain Cross Series in February. These are extremely fun races that combine singletrack mountain bike racing with cyclocross style obstacles and a handicap style start, where slower races have a longer amount of time to complete as many laps as possible. The 6 Hours at Warrior Creek is another race I want to try. This one will be solo. Of course the XXC races are always fun, but the road races may take priority over them. The Shenandoah 100 is a definite. This will be my third year at this pain-fest! Although I may try gears this year, not sure yet. If no other races coincide with it, I would like to do the Angel's Race triathlon again here in Lynchburg. Last year, I was second in my age group and was 16th overall in the bike section. I would love to break into the top 10.
   I think my racing slacked off a little last year. Mostly because of not having the Derailer Series to compete in. It kept me motivated to stay on top of my game. This year, being on Dire Wolf, I will have plenty of drive and determination.
   Bring it on!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Rider

   Nothing can make the trails you ride all the time, new and exciting again, like riding them at night. All the dynamics completely change when it's dark and you have to rely on your head or bike mounted light to keep you on the trail. Strangely enough, I've only ridden at night twice this Winter. This year, the Bedford Mountain Cross will have one race at night. Should be a super fun time.
   Today the temperature finally got significantly above freezing. A perfect evening to ride. About two miles in and I was at Five Points. I decided to head down the backside toward the Perimeter Loop. It had to be around 45 degrees. As I decended the ravine, the temps dropped faster than the altitude. Soon I was crossing icy puddles and frozen ground. The difference from top to bottom was amazing.

Monday, January 11, 2010


   I really like my job. I enjoy creating parts in a 3-D modeling program, then seeing them made in our machine shop. I'm just not sure if it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. I'll always loved cooking. So, I'm thinking about taking some cooking classes. I need to find some close by, that are not super expensive and are not just basic, learn to boil water classes. I think being some sort of chef would be a great job! Maybe a side job and not a career, or maybe it could be. I have been inspired by a friend who has started chef school recently. I know she will do well. For now, I'll keep experinmenting in my own kitchen. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Training day

   It's Saturday. That means one thing, Dire Wolf training ride. Dire Wolf Racing is an upstart team in Lynchburg, 12 members so far. Should be pretty strong team, we have some good riders on board. Every Saturday, we have a scheduled training ride, usually 25-50 miles. Today promised to be nice and cold, about 34 degrees. Breakfast was French toast I made with cinnamon raisin bread from Panera, cut very thick. Actually I had a big bowl of Special K when I first woke up around 9. I knew I had to eat something before Jess and Tyler got up. We had the French toast around Noon, so I had to get moving to meet to ride at 1.
   The route for today would take us just over 28 miles. 6 came out to brave the cold. Luckily there was not too much wind. We worked on some climbing and a lot of pace lining. Once we got a few miles in, it didn't seem as cold, especially during the climbing. Everyone had a great ride and a lot of fun.
   Now I'm home, had my shower, and started on a glass of wine. All in all a very good day!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good Stuff

We had a nice evening tonight. Jess, Tyler, and I went to Panera for dinner. Well Tyler had dinner. Jess had coffee and a small pineapple upside-down cake. I had a latte and a muffin top. We started at a table, but were able to move to the sofa and cushy chairs beside the fireplace. Tyler had the laptop and we had our phones to surf. I started a crossword puzzle on my Pre. Now we are home and I am having my daily glass of red wine. I've decided that a small glass every night will healthy and tasty. :) Here is a repost article about it.


Does red wine deserve its reputation as a healthy choice?
It has been linked with all sorts of health benefits over the years: the heart, the lungs, prevention of breast cancer, prostate cancer, tooth decay, longevity and just general wellbeing. But can this be true and how can one drink affect so many parts of the body?

Our reporter Dr Andrew Rochford uncorks a few reds to investigate the truth.

The whole idea that red wine keeps us healthy comes from something called the French Paradox. Scientists noticed that despite a diet loaded with saturated fat, very few French people actually croak it from heart attacks.

Just 83 out of 100,000 Frenchmen die from heart disease compared with 230 in the US. The difference? The amount of red wine they drink.

Family doctor Philip Norrie is such a red wine advocate and fan that he bought his own vineyard in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. He's also written several books and a thesis on red wine and its health benefits.

"We're all going to die from something and what I'm trying to do is delay your death," says Dr Norrie. He says the wine has been used medicinally for over 5000 years for antiseptic (treating wounds, water and preoperative), as a tranquiliser or sedative, and as a hypnotic.

This 'wine doctor' is a devoted disciple of red wine — he recommends it to many of his patients.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in Australia. They're triggered by a build-up of plaque in your arteries. So how does red wine help? It contains anti-oxidants, and the most important of these is resveratrol. It keeps your arteries clear of plaque therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.

"An anti-oxidant is a thing that stops oxidation. Oxidation is basically rusting, so when we're ageing we're oxidising or degenerating or rusting, so if you can block that process then you get all these health benefits because vascular disease, dementia, diabetes, all these cancers are forms of degeneration or oxidation," says Dr Norrie.

So drinking red wine is good for your heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and more.

But it's important you only drink two standard glasses of wine a day. Anymore and you risk the downsides of excessive alcohol intake: raised blood pressure, potential damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and brain. Over consumption of alcohol can also cause impotence and infertility, while during pregnancy it can damage the foetus.

"You've got to get the Goldilocks dose: too much is bad for you and abstinence is bad for you, whereas moderation's good for you," says Dr Norrie.

Also, people with high blood pressure, enlarged hearts, liver disease or anyone with a family history of alcohol abuse shouldn't be downing this daily dose.

So we've established that red wine is good for us in moderation, but is there any difference in the kind of wine we knock back? Most of us have champagne tastes on a beer budget so is a cask wine as good for you as an expensive bottle of red?

Professor Geoff Skurray has the answer. He researches the molecular content of red wine and the ways to increase the medically beneficial compounds in wine for the University of Western Sydney at its Yarramundi winery in Richmond.

Using some fancy machinery, the Professor can measure the levels of resveratrol — the good compound — in different bottles of wine and tell us which one is best.

So is there any difference between cheaper wine and the more expensive wine? Actually, yes.

According to Professor Skurray "there's much less anti-oxidants in the cheaper wine but you probably drink more of that than the other one so you make up for it."

It comes down to the way the wine is made. Cheaper wine doesn't have the rich fruit. You have to have really good fruit that has a lot of colour and anti-oxidants — this is what goes into the more expensive wines.

Professor Skurray's tests showed a $300 bottle of wine had twice as much resveratrol as a bottle costing about $10, while the cask wine had a quarter of it.

But wine lovers shouldn't despair.

According to Professor Skurray while the cheaper wines may contain less anti-oxidants, it doesn't mean we have to go without anti-oxidants because there are still health benefits in drinking two glasses of cask wine.

So why just red wine? What about the white varieties? It's because red wine is made using the skin and seeds of the grape and that's where all the goodness is. If you're not a wine lover, you might decide to just eat grapes. But you'd have to eat half a kilo a day to get the same amount of resveratrol contained in one glass of wine. Anyway why not make the most of it?

It's not often something so nice turns out not to be naughty after all.

Great news for wine lovers!

Lance Armstrong also drinks a glass a day, so it has to be good!

Monday, January 4, 2010

1st Day

   Today was a day of two firsts. First day back to work after a week and a half off and first day of my fitness plan.
The Good- I'm excited to get back on my fitness plan. To help me along, I have a couple good friends who are starting it at the same time. I really hope it works for them, it has worked great for me in the past. Even when I wasn't following it strictly, the habits it helped me form stayed with me. Eventually I would like to start an online consultation for fitness, but for now, if anyone wants to try it, just ask and I'll send my plan to you. Dinner tonight was a roasted pork tenderloin, mac and cheese, and creamy mashed potatoes. it will make a tasty breakfast.
The Bad- Going back to work after a long break, well, sucks! We have a lot of work to do in January, but still have to take a day off every two weeks without pay. :(  Hopefully things will turn around and more work will come in. I would not complain at all about having to work some overtime.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nutrition Plan

   One thing that I did not mention in my resolution post was going back on my nutrition plan. I've been really slacking this winter so far. Now that I'm on a cycling race team, Dire Wolf Racing, I need to be in good shape by early Spring. My plan is nohing like Atkin's or other super strict diets. No one should be told not to eat bread! I focus more on watching fat grams and eating big in the morning and tapering off from there. Of course I need to get on the bike more too. That means bundling up for the cold. I refuse to sit on a trainer and spin in one spot for hours. The first race on the year will be the Bedford Mountain Cross in February. Time to buckle down.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Appalachian Trail hike

   So I had a crazy idea. I wanted to hike on the AT while there is still a lot of snow on the ground. With the holidays over and going back to work on Monday, today was the day, 01-02-10. I wanted to get a nice lond hike, so I woke up at 6:30, had breakfast and coffee, and was out the door by 7:15. It was 25 degrees when I left the house. I arrived at the James River Foot Bridge at 8:00, grabbed my pack and hiking staff and was off, heading South. The Foot Bridge spans 665 feet across the James River. It's usually windy because of the gorge funneling air along the river. Today it was especially strong. Almost enough to knock you down and COLD!
   After getting to the other side, I was fairly protected from the wind by trees. It's about a mile along the river before turning left and following Matt's Creek and slowly climbing. Another mile and I arrived at the Matt's Creek shelter. It's a wooden three sided shelter, about 15 feet wide, there for any hikers who want a dry, elevated place to sleep. There was a group of 6 people just waking up. I talked to one, who said they would be hiking up to the Marbleyard later. I crossed Matt's Creek and started a long, steady climb. About 2/3 of the way up, the trail and surrounding area became completely snow covered and would be for the rest of the hike. Most of the trail above this point had 6 to 12 inches of snow on it. It was frozen so I was able to walk right on top of it.
   After following the spine of a ridge for a while, the trail cut along the side of a steep slope that went straight down to the river, about a thousand feet below. Kinda scary at points, when you don"t have much grip. The trail turned downward and over another creek before rising steeply again to cross Sulfer Springs Trail. In the next section I came across two hunters, possible father and son, who were using dogs for bear hunting. Great, just what I need, hungry bears in the area. Maybe they like granola, doubt it.
   After I passed the connector for Belfast Trail, I went another quarter mile or so and found a nice big rock to have lunch on. Now most hikers would be content with a sandwich and water. Not me, I had to bring everthing I needed to make espresso! Sterno, collapsable Sterno wind breaker, Italian 1 cup Mocha (like a mini purcolator made for espresso), espresso cup and spoon, Illy espresso, and sugar. After hiking for 3 and a half hours in below freezing weather, there is nothing better than a hot espresso. Now I was recharged for the hike back.
   The return hike was pretty uneventful. I saw the hunters again and passed the 6 hikers on their way to the Marbleyard. Then I found a vine hanging beside the trail, attached to a tree about 40 feet up. It was about 1.5 inches in diameter and would support my weight. So of course I spent the next 15 minutes swinging. By the time I got back to the Foot Bridge, I was getting pretty tired. I was glad to get in my warm car.
   It was a very fun day. Somewhere around 15 miles total. The only problem I had was that my water tube from my camelbac kept freezing. I think that I will do some more winter hikes. I want to find some parts of the trail that are a bit more knarly. This section had some great climbs and views, but not much in the way of boulders to climb over. Might even try and overnighter, we'll see.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolutions, to do's, goals, and projects

Ok, so here's my list. Not complete, I'm sure more needs to be added.

Clear a spot in the back yard for a small garden

Paint outside of house

Replace gutters

Paint rooms inside

Use the bar and rec room area downstairs more, maybe small informal get-togethers

Repair rust on the VW bug and put in on the road

Finish the MG and put it on the road

Fix the rust spots on the Jeep

Jeep camper project

Make off road style bumpers for Jeep

Buy a 29er single speed mountain bike

Ride as much as possible, mountain and road

More hiking and camping, sections of the AT

Finish my 3rd consecutive Shenandoah 100 mountain bike race

Try road racing on the Dire Wolf race team

Start hiking the high points of each state, maybe a few each year

Get out of the house more

Being true to myself and not what society tells me I should be

And keeping this blog going

I'm sure there's more, but that's the short list for now.

New Year's Day

I woke up this morning feeling surprisingly good. No headache, maybe just a little sluggish. The FROTY was definitely out for me. The New Year's, Ride the Temperature road ride was not looking very appealing either. So, after a few cups of coffee, I decided to go on a solo road ride. Nothing to strenuous, about 15 miles of steady riding. I decided to cut through Blackwater Creek bikeway, mistake. Most of it is still completely covered with snow and ice. I was able to summon up my mountainbike skills to ride through it until it turned to solid smooth ice, then I had to walk some. Finally I got back on the streets and finished out a nice ride. I am thinking about going on a long day hike on the AT tomorrow. I will probably start at the James River Foot bridge and head up Thunder Ridge, we'll see.