Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

Holiday weekends are always great. It's like a surprise day off that usually turns into an elaborate travel adventure and this year was no different. After work on Friday, I came home and began sorting all of my riding and camping gear that we would need for the extended weekend that would consist of a 24hr race followed by some socializing in Asheville with JutRut and Ty. It was going to be a full on family trip with Mrs. Pills and our four legged fuzzy son Gunnar. By the time I had everything packed into the car, it was nearly 10PM and I decided to take a short nap and leave early in the morning. 3:30AM came way too soon. We made some coffee and hit the road shortly after 4. The trip to NC was great, all the holiday traffic had made it to their destination and the roads were very easy to travel. We made it to the Dark Mountain Trails around 9:30 with time to set up camp and register. This year I was racing with a 5 man team, a first for me...have done many 4 man teams, but never a 5. Also, it has been a few years since the last time I competed in the Burn event. And without saying, this is still a well organized and most of all FUN event. The trails are not very challenging, but are tons of fun.

The race went well for us...we finished in 7th out of 25 teams which was respectable but nothing to write home about. My only goal was to turn some decent lap times and not be too far off the fastest times. Being the only rigid single speed on our geared full suspension team was a hoot. I was only a minute or so off of Jason which was fine with me...I was consistently in the 38 to 40 minute range with 1 lap at 41 minutes due to some heavy night traffic. I never feel good about being that guy that makes bad passes for a few shaved seconds. So in this instance, I followed a pretty quick female rider down the 2nd big decent with the brakes on...once we were in a safe spot, I quickly passed and went all out to pick up the lost time, with no avail.

The funny thing that I noticed most of all in this race was the hot laps are a thing of the past for me. Back in the day, I could bust out some fast lap times and felt pretty good about it, but usually fell short sometime in the early morning with the usual stomach cramps or something like that. This year, the team event almost seemed easy for me. I think that hitting the throttle for 35 to 40 minutes just got me warmed up, then I had to stop. We did one round of double laps and I actually had warmed up and started to feel good. I did get passed once during my second lap by someone who obviously was sitting around waiting their turn because I was not going slow and they came around me pretty quick. So I did the logical thing and latched onto his wheel and blasted the speakers even louder just to make sure he knew he did not drop me. I went back out a few more times and was the last to go out for one more right before the cut off time at noon. It was a lap for glory rather than purpose, but I did not want to miss out. It was actually a really nice lap, there were very few riders out on the course and the trail was in perfect condition.

All in all it was a really good time. The dog behaved better than I expected and the wife had a pretty good time hanging out with other bike widows from Chattanooga. Many thanks to Krystal's and the Scenic City Velo gang for adding me to their race roster. It was nice to be a hired gun even though we did not podium. But I will say, the competition was solid. I shot the breeze with the Dickman for while and even got heckled by him a time or two, but what's new there. We packed up and began the drive to Asheville shortly after the race was over.

We cut through the mountains between Boone and Old Fort to get to Asheville and this was absolutely gorgeous country. Curvy mountain roads and beautiful scenery were coupled with blue skies and puffy white clouds. Mrs. P took the wheel and I nodded off for a little while and caught up on my beauty rest. When we arrived at the Crow's Nest, we were greeted by Ty. We hung out for a little while then JutRut made it home. He was scoping a new pumptrack in the Asheville area...looks like another venue for the Enduro de Ocho...more to come on that. We decided to hang out at the Nest and grill out for the evening. After some killer chow, we checked out a graffiti and b-boy documentary then called it a night.

We woke up early and had some breakfast. Jut was going out for an all day ride from North Mills to Bent Creek and back, which would have been way more than I could enjoy, especially after a 24hr event. Bennett came over and he and Jut rolled out, Des and I took off and Ty slept in. We drove up to Craggy Gardens via the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked around a bit to stretch the legs. We cruised back into town, stopped for lunch at Greenlife, then hit the road back to Chatty.
The weather has been pretty wet since we have been home, so the riding has been nil. Going to Nashie this weekend to hang out with the family and have a relaxing weekend. Thinking about driving back up to Knoxville for the Disc Burner 12hr event the following weekend...anyone interested in going, please drop a line.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The End of an Era

The Tuesday Night Gang was out in full force and represented big time last night. Due to the events that ensued, it was only fitting that we were all there to be a part. It started out like any normal Tuesday ride, meeting at Jason's, Me riding over to his place, Bishop calling to tell us that he is just now leaving Signal Mountain, Little E is the first there/last ready to roll and Sam is going to meet us somewhere mid-ride. Not knocking out merry band of misfits, just a simple observation put to the test of the course of several months. Sam has not been riding with us much because he is all serious and racing the road bikes with the domestic pros this year and Bishop has been at school in NC racing bikes with the young mountain ninjas. But on this one evening, the band was back together.

We start through town and head out to Lookout Mountain, pick up the lower truck trail and take the first left turn that climbs practically straight up to the upper truck trail via this super technical hiking trail that is covered in mid sized rocks and roots. I have descended this several times in the dark and it is sketchy at best, but going up this was balls out. I watched Jason and Bishop pull away on their geared bikes while I slowly turned the pedals over and did all I could do to control my torque to prevent from spinning out. It was that strange, painful type of climb that you are more in shock that you are still in the upright position and moving forward than the fact that your heart rate is through the roof. As Bishop topped out the climb and hit the road section, The Park Ranger was there to greet him. Jason popped out and found himself part of the conversation. I stopped early and figured out what was going on and ducked back into the woods. Situation was worked out and we were able to descend the sick climb we just came up. Many thanks to our new ranger friend...he made his point and we will respect that fact since he did not slap up with a buck fifty fine and confiscate our rides until our court date for trespassing.

After we rode for another hour or two, we all agreed that the only logical thing to do after being evicted from our secret training grounds, is to step it up and begin riding to Raccoon Mountain, turn several laps then return home...with the time change we should be able to get 4 hours in easily with a warm up and cool down on the road after some sick single track...we begin next week. Just goes to show you, when you find something good, take full advantage because there will always be someone out there trying to Wreck My Flow. Laying low until the Burn 24.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Making It Happen

Ever had one of those days where you literally had to force every situation to get your ride on? That was the way things went on Saturday. I woke up early to ride at Raccoon Mountain...mind you it has been at least 6 weeks since I have been up there, so I was really looking forward to it. It was going to be the warm up to a full weekend of riding. I packed up my bike and my gear and made my way up the mountain. When I pulled in the lot was empty...first tracks on Saturday morning, how sweet. Unfortunately, the weekend has a tendency to cause this trail to become quiet crowded, so this was making me really stoked. Right as I was suiting up, a fellow local and guy I have met several time pulls up and we start talking. He was supposed to meet some mutual friends and they were not at the meeting spot, so he made his own agenda and at that moment, I realize I forgot my helmet. We agreed to ride together at a casual pace to reduce the chances of injury and just enjoy some time riding in the woods.

Near the midway point I receive a random phone call from one of our mutual friends that missed the meeting spot earlier on..."Hey, I noticed your car in the lot, where are you?" We figured our route and eventually all met up on the trail. From there, things began to unravel. After a few short minutes of floating through singletrack, a ppppssssssstttt sounds comes from a few feet behind me...flat!!! and Tim stopped to change his rear tube. Problem fixed and we are back on the bikes again. A few miles later all hell broke loose and Wade clips a tree with his bar and he gets ejected and thrown to the dirt. He is wincing in pain and eventually has to be helped up off the ground. Moose and I cut through the trails to get back to the lot in the fastest way possible, grab a car and head back to meet our injured rider. Total bummer...I was the moron without a helmet and chose to ride anyway and someone winds up getting hurt. No fault here, but strange how that worked out. Moose hooked me up with his helmet and Tim and I rode for about an hour more just to wipe away the bad juju.

Sunday morning, I woke up and milled around the house making breakfast and loading up gear. Called Big J and drove up to Sewanee to meet Ivory and Brandon for some more mountain biking. The weather was unusually cool and the chance of rain was pretty high, but after Saturday's episode, I was going to ride no matter what. We all kicked it around at a nice pace for most of the Perimeter Trail and then it finally started raining. This trail has all of these really cool rocky climbs that you have to put some trials moves in to clean them...hard anyway, but even harder when wet. Not the smoothest day I have had on the bike in a while, but it is such an awesome trail that who really cares. We eventually found our way back to the picnic shelter and hung out there while it poured down some cold rain. No matter what, it is always nice to hang out with your crew after a killer ride in the woods.

Tonight it is on and in full effect. Bishop is back in town for a few days before heading out to Colorado for a summer of part-time work and full-time fun. Makes want to go back to college big time...anyway, we are getting the Tuesday night crew back together for as many hours in the dark as we can muster the strength to ride. This weekend is the Burn 24hr and tonight should prove to be a nice kick off to a ton of bike riding over the next few days.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blog Vacation is Over

I have taken a vacation from the electronic world and it is nice to be back. Much has happened and the plan is to bring some of it up of the next few days so as not to overload the first new post in a while. All has been pretty much business as usual. Work and riding have both been consistent and steady. The next big event is the Burn 24hr Challenge next weekend, so I am going to stick around the city and ride locally. The wife and I spent last weekend camping in the Big Frog Wilderness and the Dirt, Sweat & Gears was the weekend prior. Looking forward to spending some time at home over the next few days. I plan on turning some laps at Raccoon Mountain tomorrow, hopefully with Big J. Sunday I am meeting Ivory at Monteagle for a mid-day off-road tour on the Perimeter Trail. Just registered for a chance at Hell Ride...I could use some of s mojo right about now.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


This week I have been busting some serious ass at the ol'e bicycle foundry. Mainly churning the marketing machine of web and print media. It has been a race to the dead line on evey project I touched this week. Many significant accomplishments and goals met. Now it is time to realse the angst on the race track. The plan is to head North around 1PM of luck to the SSUSA cats...I will come and cheer you on at the 2nd event...dolla preems, ya'll? Squeeze in a lap in before dark and begin the pre-race prep routine. Recieved calls from Ohio Rob, JutRut and a text from the Rev...sounds like it is going to be a great event. All the gear is packed. Food is in the crate. The PRO29 is ready to ride. All we need now is for the rain to blow on by and we will have another amazing day on the bike in Tennessee. I look forward to seeing all my friends and meeting a bunch of new ones.

A full race report to follow.