Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gotta love the mud

You know what I hate the most about racing in the mud? The clean up. I mean really, the racing isn’t all that bad, you just kinda get used to it. But the clean up is never easy. Even after you scrub yourself clean, you keep finding mud hidden on your body for days. And mud is almost impossible to get completely out of your shoes. Yeah, it’s stupid.
We rode the course yesterday, and it was muddy, but not all that bad. However, it rained over an inch and a half last night, and yeah, that doesn’t really do good things to race courses.
I started warming up, and my legs were feeling pretty good. There were a lot of people there though, and I started freaking out because of all the competition. I got to the line, and there were about 30 people in my class alone. The pro, semi-pro, pro women, jr expert men AND women, all started in front of us on a very short course. I got a pretty good start, and ended up going into the woods in 3rd position. I passed two guys, got passed by another, noticed that he was sketchy on pretty much everything, and then passed him right before a gnarly rock downhill section. I put about 10 seconds on the field on that one section alone, and knew that it was going to be a good day. One guy, who I had been talking to on the line, came around me, and straight took off up a stupid steep climb. I tried to keep him in sight while also keeping my heart rate down, but that didn’t work out so well. The 3rd place rider ended up catching me on the second lap, and we rode together for the next lap. I could just barely see the leader every once in a while, and the two of us were working together to bring him back. There was a moment that I was straight struggling to keep up with him, and almost dropped off, but decided to put in a little more effort to keep on his wheel. I ended up dropping the guy I was riding with on the third lap without any effort, which made my job a whole lot easier. I rode that lap chasing the leader, and pulling him ever closer as we hit some serious lap traffic. I finally caught up to 1st on the first climb of the final lap, and settled in behind him to recover from the chase.
I noticed that I was riding the descents a little faster than him, so I figured that I would use that to my advantage on the final downhill. I attacked with 3k to go (usually I would measure in miles, but there was a sign right there that said 3k, so that’s all I know), right at the top of the mountain. I pushed the descent for all it was worth, passed a whole bunch of riders, and had a clean run down the rooted out downhill just before the flat to the finish. The final section of the course ran around a lake, which was fine yesterday, but today was covered in water from the rain. It was run on a little walking path, and there were people fishing and picnicking right in the middle of the course. It was awesome. Anyway, I pretty much sprinted for the final mile, and ended up winning my first expert race by around 10 seconds. I was pretty stoked. We were driving back to Brevard that night, and as it was, we weren’t going to get back to town until around 2 Monday morning. To add to the insult of the late night, it started pouring about an hour into the trip. We ended up stopping at a hotel for the night, which, when coupled with pizza and Family Guy, was a really good call. So yeah, back to class tomorrow for the final week of classes. I am really really really really looking forward to this next weekend, and then the end of classes after that. Stay tuned! Oh, you should go look at my Facebook to see the pictures from this weekend…

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Riders with an eating problem

So guys, I am up in Maryland with the BC team with the intent of racing at Greenbrier State Park. It’s my first UCI race, and so far, it’s been pretty sick. We got up here late last night, and hung out a bit before going to bed. We are staying at Tim’s house, about an hour from the course, and his parents have been really cool, feeding us and putting us up and all. The one issue that we had with the house was the jungle that they apparently have growing outside their house at night. I mean, during the day, everything seems cool. Other than some slightly longer-than-usual grass in the backyard, nothing was really out of the ordinary. But man, once the sun goes down, something crazy happens. First, the house doesn’t get any cooler, and it starts out really hot to begin with. Second, there are some massively noisy birds that start going off. There was a woodpecker (not really a jungle type bird, but still, it was there. It must have been a mutant or something) who insisted on banging on the window, and a chorus of his friends screaming at the top of their lungs. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a wild fire truck that decided to start his mating calls at around 4. Man, when those guys start sounding off, it gets crazy loud.
Anyway, Wells, Tristan, and myself ended up waking really early, which after going to bed late, kinda defeated the idea of getting a long night of sleep on the most important night to get a good night of sleep. We headed to the grocery store for some Luck Charms and Doughnuts, and then came back to the house to get ready to go ride. Some people may be under the impression that as serious athletes, cyclists are good about their diet. Let me assure you, THIS IS NOT TRUE. Tristan is addicted to candy, Wells eats more than a horse, Ethan eats pretty much anything you put in front of him, edible or not, and I pretty much eat way too much sugar. It’s a good thing that we ride bikes a whole lot, because if we didn’t, we would be some fat bastards.
Moving on to this actual riding, we got to the course, and it was about 900 degrees out. We got into our superhero kits, and headed out for some pre-race laps. The course is really intense, and pretty much the most full suspension friendly thing that I have ever ridden. There is not a single section that isn’t covered by rocks, climb or descent. You have to pick your lines really well going uphill, or you aren’t going to make it up these super steep climbs. The descents are fast and rocky, and there is one fairly substantial rock garden that will mix things up right at the start of the race. All in all, it is just over a 5 mile lap, and I’m hoping to end up with about 25 minute laps.
After we rode, I went to the amazingly convenient lake that the race goes around, and cleaned myself off. I talked bikes with this chick while I was cleaning up, which slowed the process down a little, but hey, it’s cool. I got to go to a Chipotle Burrito place for the first time ever, and let me tell you, it was amazing. Although I don’t think that it was as good as Moe’s or Pescado’s, so I’m not too beat up about us not having one near our house. It’s pouring right now, so I’m not sure what the course will be like tomorrow. It will certainly be interesting, and I’m hoping to do pretty well. So yeah. I’ll let you know. Looking back over this post, I can’t help but notice that it has been really long. Sorry about that, but hey, I had to make sure that you know all the details of my life. So yeah, now you know. Peace!

Tiger Rad

So, I started this blog earlier in the week, and I was almost done with it, and then it got deleted, and I was mad, and so I haven’t started it again. Until now. So anyway, Tiger Rag. It's rad. It’s a bike race. That I went to. And raced.
I wasn’t all that excited about racing, cause I didn’t really think that my legs would be all that good, but hey, I went anyway. I was kinda happy about some changes that they had made to the course, taking out the long climb and sketchy sections by the lake. I’ve never like those parts, and was glad not to have to race them. The course ended up being about a 25 minute 5 mile loop that was super spectator friendly and fun to race. Anyway, after having a super fun drive down the mountain, I got registered, got a timing chip, and found some ear muffs on the ground. Since it was about 80 degrees outside, I decided that I didn’t want them, but since I didn’t want to put them to waste, I gave them to Tim instead. He didn’t want them either. Bummer. I then noticed that I had a new voicemail, and being the phone junkie that I am, I had to listen to it, despite being ready to start warming up. Sometimes all it takes is just a tiny little thing to push you over the edge of wanting to race, and this voicemail did it for me. I got some encouragement, a couple of laughs, and then was ready to get it on.
The start was going to be super important, but since I was trying to start slower, I didn’t really care. I gave Tristan the front spot on the line that I had been saving, mostly because I knew that I couldn’t run with those guys anyway, and started in the middle of the pack. I ended up going into the woods somewhere around 10th position, and settled in behind a sketchy guy that I know from back in Brevard. I was feeling pretty good, so I passed a bunch of guys on the first climb, and then didn’t see anyone else from my class for the rest of the race. The leader of the older age group caught up to me on the third lap, and I rode with him for most of the rest of the race, so I at least had some company, even if it was an old dude. I tried to keep it slow and consistant, and managed to keep my lap times to within 30 seconds of each other for all 5 laps. I managed a 5th place finish on the day, about 2 minutes off of 2nd. Of course, Tristan destroyed the field by like 4 minutes, so I wasn’t super close to him, but still, for a combined Pro/Expert field, I’m pretty happy.
I’m up in Maryland this weekend writing this now, and we are about to go ride the course. I’ll tell you all about my day later on…

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Sooo, I just got done riding the seasonal trails for the final time this year, and I had an interesting experience while doing so... I felt as though I was saying goodbye to someone that I love, as to a girlfriend, knowing that I wouldn't see them again for a long time. This kind of goodbye sucks, and it is impossible to savor it in the way it deserves. I rode much slower than I usually would, taking time to study every curve and every line and every feature. Looking deep into the heart of the trail, the eyes of the girl, trying to burn the image into my waking mind, hoping that I will be able to remember every detail until our next meeting. The only solace that can be taken is the knowledge that, at some point, you will be reunited. Every time that we see each other, there is an understanding that, eventually, this piece of bliss must end, and life must go back to the mundane. All that is left to do is to count down to the time when we get to say hello again, and try to enjoy life in the present.


PS. I am not high, nor do I smoke weed; and, as a rule, I don't associate with people who do. I just felt like getting a little deep and into "the soul" of our sport. Don't hate.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bikes are like a drug.

This has been an, uhh, interesting week. I was really really really tired after this past weekend's race, and so Monday was spent lethargically going around campus. Tuesday we went and rode with a new roadie recruit. Good times except for the whole climbing to the Parkway with no legs thing. Actually, it wasn't all that bad. I mean, we did get to do the Parkway ride, and I know from first hand experience that there are people out there who would give anything to ride in our mountains. (To all of you out there like that, just hold on, you will get to really soon, I'm sure). So anyway, we did that, and it was longer than I wanted to ride. My next ride was on Thursday on the group mountain ride with my new Epic. Let me tell you... it was SICK. Trust me, if you ever get a chance, buy a carbon Epic. It rides better than just about anything, and it looks good to boot.
Anyway, leading up to today, I really haven't wanted to ride my bike. I worked on Friday and Saturday, and have been really tired and on the verge of being close to being almost kinda depressed. Today was so nice though that I just had to ride. So I got on my road bike for the second time since the Assault, and went up towards the Parkway (considering my other ride this week was going the same way, maybe not the most original thing to do, but whatever). In spite of my saddle being too low, my shifting not working right (my bike fell over in the parking lot and I'm pretty sure that I bent the hanger. So don't start doubting my wrenching skills), and my tire having a little hop in it, I had an amazing ride. I was so happy to be out riding my bike, and I realized that just going for an hour long ride made my entire outlook on the day better. I guess there is a reason that I ride bikes for a living. Or maybe not a living. But still, there is a reason.
What I want to convey to everyone is this. GO RIDE YOUR BIKE. You will love yourself and your life that much more. Even better if you can go ride with someone else fun.

Monday, April 7, 2008


So, the Sycamore Cycles Race Team (henceforth known as SYC Racing or just SYCR) went to Tsali this past weekend for some intense racing action. Tsali is always super fast with way too many people taking it way too seriously, mostly because it is a locally legendary course that everyone comes to in order to show off their fitness for the season. This means that anyone who comes to race and isn't ready to bring it is pretty much setting themselves up for disappointment. Anyway, for the entire week leading up to the race, I was watching the weather forecast hoping that it would be a dry race and not a repeat of last year. The good folks at made some good promises at the beginning of the week, but then the forecast started and continued to deteriorate throughout the week. By the time that we got there, it had been raining for 5 days straight, and the course promised to be a water soaked ordeal.

SYCR had a large contingent going to the race, so we decided to get a couple of cabins at nearby Fontana Village. This turned out to be a much better idea than our original idea of camping, since everyone knows that camping in the rain both sucks and is not conducive to good racing. We left the shop about an hour behind schedule, but ended up having more than enough wonderful bakery products from our super sponsor Braken Mountain Bakery. We started out following Ray in the big Moose Racing van, until Captain America decided that the pace was too slow and got on the gas some. After about 5 minutes of this, he looked over at me and was like, "hey is that our exit?" And I was like, yeah, that's it. And he was like, ooh, we just missed it. And Gattis was like, ooh, that sucks. And we kept driving. After we turned around and started heading back to the correct exit, Tristan looks over at me and was like, "hey is that our exit?" Yeah, the rest of the back and forth was very similar to the previous exchange, except that Gattis was a little more animated than the last time. So yeah, apparently Captain America is good at racing bikes, not so good at navigating.

After we finally got on the right road, we met the rest of the crew (who hadn't taken the wrong turn) at some crap-ass, hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant that Thad insisted we eat at. The only thing that needs to be said about that place is that they gave Bennett bleach water. Twice. After the restaurant, we went to the store, picked up some groceries and another teammate (hey we can find good racers anywhere. Even the local supermarket.) We finally got to the Cabin, and decided that we wanted to go ride a bit on the course. It was muddy. Very muddy.

It took way too long to clean up after our short little ride, making it probably not quite worth the riding that we got. Everyone came over to our cabin for some dinner and Stars and Bars action. We also watched the Carolina "game", which would more accurately be described as a Kansas beat down of the boys in blue.

So, moving on to the main point of this blog, we get to race day. After a not very restful night's sleep, I woke up to sunny skies and warm air. We got to the race site in time for Julia's race, set up our race pit, and started having some fun. I got lots of pictures, and most of them can be viewed on my Facebook. Julia got a great start, and was first into the woods. She held onto her lead through the whole race, and ended up destroying the field in her first real mountain bike race. Stupid Strong.

Moving on to the men's racing, we had Wes Dickson and Tristan Cowie in the Pro/Semi-Pro field, Gattis Tyler and Chris Bennett and myself in the 19-29 field, and Jimy Fink and Donnie Kirkwood in the old men's category. My race was interesting. The goal for my race was to get into the woods second wheel and follow whoever that was for as long as possible. The start was amazingly easy, and I ended up right where I needed to be. Three of us got a good gap on the rest of the field pretty quickly, and with the crazy roadie that we were following, it was easy to see why. I felt really good, but noticed that my heart rate was pretty high, but still, I was rolling without much trouble. The first lap went by without incident, and I felt good rolling through the feed-zone. As soon as I started up the first climb, I felt like someone sucked all of the juice out of my body, and I suddenly stopped moving.

The rest of the race went downhill from there (figuratively. It felt like it was actually all uphill from there). I started that lap in 4th, got passed by two other people, and caught the crazy roadie which put me in 5th place. I kept hoping that someone would catch me and knock me off the podium so that I could go easier, but since I was still in 5th, I figured that I had to keep going as best I could. I was cramping for the last hour and a half of the race, which, by the way, pretty much totally sucked, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Every time I heard someone coming up behind me, I thought that I was losing my place, but every time, I escaped what seemed inevitable.

I finally finished out in 5th, barely holding on, and finishing with only one operational and none cramping leg. I rolled up to the finish, stoked with my first podium finish in Expert. Wes got 5th and Tristan got 2nd with a broken rear brake in the pro race, making 4 podium appearances for SYCR on an extremely hard day. Good job everybody! This was definitely one of the best race weekends that I've had in a long time for a myriad of reasons... thanks to everyone who contributed to that good time.

So yeah, this was a very long and somewhat uninspired blog, but I pretty much had nothing else to do tonight, so uhh, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Events and Assault

Well, believe it or not, my life has been continuing on since my first post. I really didn't have much to write about up until the Assault on the Carolinas, which was interesting to me, and yet very well written about by Tristan, Wes, and Pinnett (look on the side there for their links). I don't have much else to say about the "race" itself, since it pretty much boiled down to climbing and rain. We started out on the flats, hit a stupid steep climb that broke up the main field, got on some rollers, went way too fast, then started going downhill. This is when it got interesting... We pretty much rode straight into the belly of a massive thunderstorm, replete with hail, massive raindrops, an inch of standing water, lightning, and of course, thunder.
There is nothing quite like trying to descend a steep, twisty section of road not being able to see a thing without brakes surrounded by 40 other guys hell-bent on getting down the mountain first so that they can, uhh, get there first. No, there really is no reason that anyone would need to get down the mountain first, but there also isn't a whole lot of reason for 40 spandex clad riders to be riding in such weather to begin with.
Anyway, it rained, it kept on raining, it rained some more, I saw a guy building an ark in preparation for what was surely the end of the world, and then it kept raining. In fact, it only let up in the rain department once we hit the bottom of the main climb, which is its own beast to deal with. Suffice it to say, my legs hurt a whole lot, and I couldn't keep up with people who were faster than me (funny how that works out), and I kept riding anyway. After the climb, our team had 4 guys working together back into Brevard where we set up Wes D for the finish. I managed to snake a 6th place finish from Pinnett. Not bad for a race that wasn't really a race.
Sorry I don't have pictures from that... I'm kinda poor in the camera/money department.

Hey, I'm planning to write about my adventures since then tomorrow, so be sure to check back with me for the continuing saga!!!