Monday, April 28, 2008

sixfifty B Ya'll

"Time Flies" they say, well I say they are correct. It has been a pretty chill week since Cohutta and it feels really good. I have been putting in miles all winter long and am happy to be in a rest mode right before the Dirt, Sweat and Gears race on Saturday. Unfortunately there seems to be a HUGE chance that I am going to miss the SSUSA event...I may just jump in the minute I get there and hope for the least that is my current plan. Last week was business as usual, Tuesday and Thursday night rides, work and life. The weather did not cooperate and spoiled the misses and my plan to camp out at Thunder Rock for a little more riding and some hiking with the dog. Looking back, we should have gone anyway, but we had a great time hanging out at the pad. It has been a while since we have relaxed at home. Time well spent.

Work is back in effect and I finally finished the 650b bike today. It has taken me way too long to get this project finalized. but it came out so bad ass. I am going to test this rig tomorrow, tune it up and ship of off for testing. I can only hope they are as equally pleased as they were with the PRO29. I think it is going to be sick. I am looking forward to 12 hours of doing laps in TN on my bike. Hope all goes well this year. Rode myself into the flu by on the 3rd lap and I spent the next 3 hours trying to sleep in the back of my truck. Totally wrecked and immobile. Looking for some redemption this year. I plan on resting up some more this week with an easy night tomorrow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yazoo Invades Cohutta

Sitting here Monday night and thinking about the weekend's activities is just getting me fired up about the race season. While the entire race experience is great and traveling around is fun. It's hanging out with all of the friends that you meet along the way that truly make the experience something you will remember. When you combine Yazoo crew members with other racing folks you are guaranteed a good time. So, here is the brief rundown of the events that transpired.

On Thursday, Jut Rut was coming down to Chatty from Nashville after a quick stop at MOAB in the 'boro to visit the Rigid Kitten and pick up some parts. The Rev was on his way in from Dallas and had been driving most of the day. I arrived home after work and within a few minutes Jut pulls up with a roof full of bikes, which is not unusual, but there was a blast from the past on top that I have to mention. Many years ago, Justin and I had the flu and wound up being too ill to race at Chickasaw, so we decided to round up every loose bike part we could find and build a chopper. Thanks to an article in Dirt Rag, we had all the basic info we needed along with a plethora of random gear. After we coupled two old ass Manitou forks together and hammered a raked rigid fork into that, we had all the front end you could ever need. A few hours later we were riding around the neighborhood on the new chopper bike. Anyway, over the years the chopper has had many sighting, but the last little while it has been garaged. It was nice to see that it is on its way to reside in Asheville. Let the good times roll.

I went to work on Friday and the boys packed up and drove out the Thunder Rock to ride some trails before the race and get registered. Jason and I made the working guys plan and met up around 7 and drove straight out to the Whitewater Center to sign in and pick up our race packet. Right as we pull in, Garth is packing up his ride and we stop and chat for a little while. As I'm signing in I run into Announcer Bruce and Sandra Vanderkitten. We shoot the breeze for a few minutes and then it was time to make our way to the Sourmash Lodge. When we pulled up everyone was already settling in and wrapping up dinner. Ohio Rob, Chip, The Rev, Dave, Sharpie and Jut had already warmed the place up and showed Big J and I around. What a sweet place we had for the weekend. We hung out for a few hours and as the crew slowly vanished one by one, I figured it was time for bed. About 3 in the morning, the sky opened up and it began to pour rain. It was enough to wake me up and it kind of made me laugh. It was only proper that we get dumped on before the race. I rolled back over and tried to get a few more hours of sleep.

5:30 came quicker than I wanted and of course it was still raining. We were all sitting around having breakfast and the rain was the only subject of conversation. How long will it last? How much will it effect the course? Damn, I did not bring any cold weather clothes. Oh well. Jason and I drove down to the start/finish and suited up. As we were riding up to the start, Bruce announced that we were starting in 45 seconds...crap, I was all the way at the back of the entire pack. As we rolled out the traffic was pretty bad at first, so I made a few early moves to get out in front of the slower traffic. As I was climbing the first hill I hear, "Hey Pillsbury"!, it was Dougie. We talked for a while as we made our way to the single track. Once we hit the first turn, the traffic was piling up so I made a few more moves and broke out in front of a bunch of slower riders. I was in no real hurry, but I wanted to keep my flow going because the rain made the climbs a bit slick. Once I made it to the first fire road, I was feeling great and decided just to keep a good groove going and not work too hard. All I wanted to do was ride easy, climb everything and have fun without getting passed by anyone. Around mile 37, I had to take a nature break and a guy came around me on a geared bike so I did not think anything of it at first. Then I remember not wanting to get passed, so I picked up the pace and caught him right away. We talked for a second and he mentioned that he loved the speakers...I said thanks and rode up the hill. For most of the ride from that point on I was riding solo. I would look up the road for someone and use them as motivation to pass, then off to lonely land again. When I finally hit the last single track I was totally stoked. I cranked up the tunes and picked off several more riders on the last single track climb before bombing down Thunder Rock. My hands were pretty numb by that point and I was so covered in mud that I pretty much just let go of the levers, opened it up and hoped for the best. When I rounded the last turn and crossed the bridge, all that was left was a mile or so of road. As I crossed the finish line, all I wanted was a Coke and dip in the river. For not really racing, I wound up in 2nd to Pisgah Bruce. Which is fine with me, but I regret not knowing he was racing because I may have been motivated to ride a little harder, oh well. I had a great time and the 65 mile course was way more fun than the 100 that I pre-rode 2 weeks ago. So all in all, it was a good day. I will be back next year and register earlier so that I can be sure to get into the 100.

Friday, April 11, 2008

2 Aussies, 1 Georgia Cup Race & 4 Hill Repeats

It is only fitting that the weekend is over and I am watching the wind pick up and the storms are blowing in...damn. There was talk all week of potential weather changes so last week was full of bike riding just in case. Looking back, I made the right choice. Monday I finally built up my new road bike. It has been sitting in my office for several weeks but I never had the time or desire to build it because I knew it would distract my mountain biking. Well I could not wait anymore. So Tuesday was the first test ride and it was not disappointing by any measure. It was much snappier, descended better and climbed easier than my Serotta, sorry Ben. But I do have to say that the two bikes are not to be compared on the same level anyway. Big Black is the Cadillac equivalent of a road bike and the R320, yet to be named but leaning towards "Shiny Steve", is the Porsche. We ran along the East side of Lookout Mountain for quite some time before turning right and working our way up a pretty nasty climb to the top of Lookout. This was an area that I had not seen before and it was sweet. It only takes a short while before you are out of town and in the country and riding along some beautiful countryside. I look forward to getting back out there soon. On Thursday we rode the local "Tuesday Night" loop and had a blast. We cruised out through Red Bank and out to Falling Water. This is also some beautiful country. While I love living in the city, the more time I spend riding in the country the more drawn I am to it. Since Chatty is so tiny anyway, you can easily have the best of both worlds, so I will stay in North Chatt for now.

The weekend turned out to be great. Thanks to Sharpie, the wife and I played host parents to domestic pros Willo and Sully for this weekend's Georgia Cup race. We had a blast hanging out and learning some new Aussie slang and adding y's to all of out words. For example, Chattanooga is now Chatty and Nashville is now Nashy. Plus my laptop is my lappy, sunglasses are sunnies and the list could go on for days. We laughed a bunch and told funny stories about each other and many of our mutual friends. I rolled down to the Time Trial with them early Saturday morning and later to the criterium that was downtown. The boys raced well, but there were only 3 Jittery Joe's rides and a few other squads brought a much bigger roster along so it made it hard to expect too much. We went out for some food and more laughs after the crit and wound up getting home pretty late.

I woke up early on Sunday for some hill repeats on Lookout Mountain with Big J while the boys went way out in the country for their road race. After 4 trips up and down the mountain, I was spent and glad to make my way back to the house. The crew rolled back in around 4:30 and we all sat around for some dinner before Sully drove back to Athens and Willo back to Nashy. Look for these guys and the entire Jittery Joe's squad at the Tour de Georgia next week and I'm sure they will kick some ass on their home turf.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Death March Round 1

This Sunday was the first of 2 pre-death march rides before the Cohutta 100 or 65. The upgrade is still yet to be determined. Big J and I rolled out at 5:45 so we could make our ritual stop at Cracker Barrel for some pancakes and what ever else I could cram in. Being the first ones in the lot was quite surprising, but we were not feeling to eager at that point. A few minutes later, Tab and Jamie pulled up and a short time after Davey Boy rolled in too. This was the first time I have ridden with these guys, except for Jason of course. We started off and the weather was not too nice...misty with slight spurts of rain was how things kicked off. The weather was supposed to be in the high 60's and sunny. It did not seem like we were ever going to see the sun.

The death march began with some of the single track that I am familiar with and we were cruising along nicely. When we came to the first forest service road, we made a quick stop for some adjustments and food organization before we started climbing. We must have been working our way up that road (FS221, I think) for several hours. At one point, I asked when we were going to get off the gravel and everyone looked at me like I was obviously confused. They proceed to fill me in on the fact that we were going to be on a series of fire roads all freakin' day. We continued up to the top of the first major section of the climb and Big J and I took a break for a few minutes to eat and regroup.

We began the decent which made me happy. The best part was trying to see how fast you could go into the blind corners and not become some redneck's hood ornament. The traffic was minimal but all it takes is one car to come around the corner on the inside. Fortunately, no incidents t0 report and when we made it to the bottom, there were several miles of flats. This was the part that I just tuned out. Single speeds and flat roads are not too fun, yet it was nice to spin the legs...little did I know that would be the last time. I was once again informed of some not so pleasant news...the flats were the indicator that we were going to have to climb back out of the valley. I think that I must have known this and decided not to acknowledge it. A few more miles up the road and the pitch continued to increase. Just when I thought we were near the top, we went back down for a while. And this crap went on for at least another hour until finally we started marching up and up and up. At mile 67.9 I was over the entire thing. I did not want any more of this. No more fire road, no more mountain bike and sure as hell no more single speed. But we still had more to go, how nice. I sucked it up as always and marched on. When we hit the last climb I had just enough in the legs to crest the hill and bomb down the last section of road back to the lot.

I felt terrible pretty much all day. I think that the vacation to the beach was killer for my mind and soul, but it wreaked havoc on my fitness. I will be riding all week long trying to get some kind of form back. One more pre-death march this weekend and then the real deal next weekend. After a pre-ride, I don't care if I get in the 100 or not. It's not that I am not up for the challenge, it's more that riding on gravel roads for 90% of a mountain bike race is not really a mountain bike race. This will be a fitness geeks wet dream...nothing technical at all about this one. We finished up the day with 72.4 miles, 7:05 and 11,200 ft of climbing and that was not the entire course. The boredom will be more epic than the race itself...that may just be my opinion.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back from the Beach

Returning to work after 6 days off was a total madhouse and the primary reason I have been absent from the web world. My trip to Florida was long overdue for my mind and spirit. Just hanging out at the beach and then finding some little joint with killer seafood with a seat outside was the daily objective. It was my first extended beach trip in years. There will be many more to come...can't stop thinking about the islands. Typically most of my vacation time is spent traveling to ride or race which usually is anything but relaxing. I have no complaints, but this trip was different in a good way. I wound up not riding very much due to what is now known as "the wicked bad sunburn", but I did make it down the Liberty Trail for a ride that fit my vacation lifestyle...laid back. It is a new rails to trails project that opened while we were in Sarasota. It is always great to see cities embrace greenways and bike lanes. Hopefully in the years to come, we will be able to tour safely around the country by bike.

Riding has been scarce but I think that the rest I have had will do wonders. Big J and I went out in the rain on Thursday night just out of spite for a few hours. It's the rainy season in Tennessee so you have to suck it up and get wet. Thanks to the annual celebration of getting older, I received a new set of rollers from my folks...many thanks ya'll. I will utilize these babies when the rain becomes overwhelming. On that note, if you are reading this and would want a hand-me-down set of rollers, post a comment on this here blog...only requirement is the post must include 1 or 2 sentences on why you think you should have one wins. Freddy was kind enough to pass them along to me, so I feel it is only right to do the same.

Tomorrow we are heading out for a pre-ride of the Cohutta 100. Meeting at the white water center at 7:30, rolling out at 8. It should be a good time. Currently I am registered for the 65 with hopes and prayers of being bumped up to the 100. Extra positions are supposed to be opened, but no word yet. I think that there are a few others hoping for the same thing...either way I am cool. This is a killer area to ride your bike and hang with your friends, that is all that matters anyway. Jut has hooked up a cabin for us to reside in for a few days and that is enough reason right there for me.