Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I went to a party and there was a bike race...?

Tsali...It is hard not to bring up the name and not begin to think about all the good time that have been had there. Well in classic fashion, this trip was nothing short of a good time. I bailed the bike foundry a bit later than anticipated, but the bike world needed some extra love that day so I hung around. The biggest bitch with rolling solo to such an event is the lack of opportunity to get a decent spot let alone a spot at the campground unless you arrive a day or so early, especially on a holiday weekend. Good news for me my mate Sam did just that...arrived on Wednesday to guarantee the choice spot in the woods that weekend. Camp spot 10 is the shit and you should all know it. And yes, it was ours. I made in through the valley around 8ish and met up with the video squad of Craig and Allie who were there to shoot the race. Rumors of Bishop were abound and he and Silvey went on a B double E Run. I made quick work of tent city and worked straight into chill mode with the video crew. The boys returned soon enough and we started the weekend off right. A few Fat Tires in a can, which is the bee's knees IMO, but being in the metals fabrication business I think aluminum is the perfect vessel for coldies and that is about it. The evening rolled on for hours and there was no shortage of complete amateur comedic relief.

The morning came quicker than expected, as usual. Some light breakfast and a morning Coors got things started off in the right direction. We sat around the camp spot and finalized the last few bike details and picked right up where we left off the night before. After we staged our bikes up the long ass gravel road it became real that it was nearly go time. I want to segway into this next part by saying that I hate to run...seriously, hate it. Like, I only run when the cops are coming and when we have to do a La Mans start. Well that went just as expected, sketchy, crowded and awkward. So when I hit the bike, I went off like mad. It was part adrenaline and part get me the hell out of here...I want single track. Since I cannot remember when the last time I was at Tsali and did not pre-ride the course, I had no clue when the road stopped and the trail began. The pace was solid right from the start and I felt really good for the first few hours and started to slow down a bit due to some wicked leg cramps that came out of nowhere. I totally underestimated the humidity and heat because it felt quite nice out. I made a longer than usual stop after the 5th lap to re-group and change my kit...I noticed that my jersey was really salty thus explaining the cramps. So I sat down in the creek by our camp spot for a few minutes and changes jerseys, grabbed some food and went back out on the course. I was rolling along pretty good not having any idea where I was on the leader board and at this point did not really care. I was just out to do as many laps as I could without totally destroying myself. When one of the fella's I was racing came by me like mad and I was sure that he had lapped me while I was chilling in the creek. That just sealed the deal for me because I was not moving that fast and had no real desire to do so at that point. So I turned a couple more laps and called it a day. For some reason, I lost a lap after the results were posted, but no big deal to me, I was out of the running by that point anyway. I made my way back to the camp spot and hung out for a few more hours before calling it a night. It was a great trip and I always have a blast at Tsali. It is everything it is cracked up to be and more. Now for a few weeks off before my shortest race of the season at Raccoon Mountain. It is too close to home to not participate.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dirt Sweat & Gears Recap

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words...then this shot should sum up the entire 12 hours race then. Even with 9 seasons of mountain bike racing under my belt, I have never ridden in conditions like this. I think that my first 24 hour race at Snowshoe, WV was probably the worse mud and rain I had seen until this weekend. Half way into the 2nd lap the trails were nearly impossible to ride, even on the down hills. You could ride the field section after the start finish, then a small open area along the trail where my pit was located, then back to pushing. At one point, I would have to use a stick or my glove to scrape off as much mud as I could, then walk about 300 yards, then repeat the process again. I stopped and hung out for a while after my 2nd lap and was hoping for it to rain harder or just dry up and neither was the case, so I called it a day and socialized. I feel very fortunate to be in a position to race for money, but this weekend was one of the times that I was grateful to not need the cash that bad. When the most laps completed in 12 hour event was 5, you should get the idea. It has been the season of rain so far this year, no real complaints because we really need the rain, but it would be great to have a race where it missed us. The SSUSA event is up for debate at the moment, but the following weekend is the 12 hours of Tsali which I am already registered for...hopefully that will be a dry day, but no matter, I am sure that it cannot be worse than what we rode in at DSG. For a complete breakdow, some cool videos and photos check out Cycling Dirt...if their coverage doesn't get the message across, then you just don't get it. Thanks to Clay and Grant for putting on the event and all the racers and sponsors for making it awesome as always.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Guess Who's Back...Back Again...Jamie's Back, Tell Your Friends

It has been so long since the last post that I was thinking about abandoning this blog for good, but something just keeps me coming back. Mainly for my friends and family that I do not get to see that often, but also as a reminder of what has been going on and an exercise in communication. So with that disclaimer officially noted, here we go. Not sure where to start exactly...How about with the fun stuff first. Since my last post, there have been several bike races and a sustained internal injury. At the second Snake Creek Gap TT in February, I wound up puking about 10 miles into the race and could not hold it back. So there I was on the side of the trail just going to town and yelling at my shoes. While I was putting in a solid effort, it was not enough to cause that level of sickness. So I bailed out at the half way point very disappointed and felt defeated and confused. In bike racing, we have all gone to the point that you thought you were going to be sick, but rarely does it actually happen. So after that weekend, I made a few calls to some local bike racers/doctors that I know and told them what was going on and if they knew someone who could check me out. Of course they I went straight to the GI specialist and we came to the realization that I had herniated my stomach and also had an small ulcer. So the hernia was pushing into my liver and gall bladder, which caused the gall bladder to excrete too much acid and then the heavy physical stress of mountain bike racing all added up to some torn up insides. I had to make some serious changes to my diet, eliminating all the wonderfully bad foods like coffee, milk/dairy, red meat and spicy foods and take daily medication from now on. I just went in for my follow up appointment and I am feeling much better and everything looks good. So my efforts were not in vain, but my physical duress trigger will always be there.

I made a trip down to Athens Ga with Mike V for the first of the Dirty Spokes events at Heritage Park. This was the first time that I raced in Athens and at a Dirty Spokes event. This was the first in a 4 race series that started with a 6 hour race. It was rainy and a chilly 38 degrees when we rolled out and it never got much better. I cranked out 5 laps and came in 5th, which was not as well as I hoped. I ran into a bunch of people that I had not seen a while and even hung out with the Terrapin Brewing Team for some post race support. We loaded up the car and made the trip home just in time for dinner.

I spent the next few weeks hitting up our Tuesday night and Thursday night rides and added one long day each weekend just to keep it fresh. It has been great since Tuesday has become the game of finding the hardest road route possible and then racing each other up and down the mountain. Great fun but hard on the system. On Saturdays I have been riding to Raccoon Mountain from my house which is a decent 50 miles depending on which way you go over Lookout Mountain. Even then it has been hard to get the distance that I feel I need. So I made a decision to use the month of May as my trial by fire into better endurance shape for the rest of the season.

It started last weekend at the 2nd Dirty Spokes 12 hour event at Ft. Yargo SP in Winder, GA. I have never been here before either, but I heard that it was a fun, fast course. Once again, Mike V and I hit the road. Similar to our last trip to GA, the weather was terrible and it rained like crazy all the way down. We woke up to some decent sunshine, but that lasted long enough to start the race and get a few laps in. Then the sky opened up and it poured, big time. So for the next few laps it was a mess and only got worse. I hated to call it a day after the 7 hour mark, but I really felt like we were destroying the course and I was tired of being muddy. You could not wear glasses because they would fog up from the humidity, so you had to take your chances and try to limit the amount of fine sand that you got into your eyes. I am still digging out sand from my eyes days later. All in all it was a good time and it was too bad that the sun did not remain because the few early laps were awesome and fast, but that was very short lived. Once again, it was nice to see all the folks that showed up at the race. We packed up and hit the road.

This weekend is the Dirt, Sweat & Gears 12 hour event which I hope will have better trail conditions, but it is not looking good so far. I will have a full race report next week. Following the DSG will be the SSUSA event and then the 12 hours of Tsali on the 23rd. This is going to be the make it or break it month for me, so either I will get this 12 hour thing or I will keep trying until I do. I really like the format and have been enjoying the new trails, but it seems like the only way to "train" yourself for a 12 hour race is to just suit up and go around as many times as you possibly can. See you Fayetteville this weekend!