Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I'm a pretty loyal person.

No questions when it comes to family and friends.

But it permeates to even the mundane - I'm a loyal shopper, sticking with a store or product that has done me right (or more importantly, hasn't screwed me over).  Solid service/product and you've got me.  I'm not big on always looking for the next deal or option.  If I like it, I'm likely sticking with it.

Thus far I haven't been one to really talk about/review products on here... there are plenty of sites that do that on the regular.  I think I may have mentioned a product or two in the past (again, if you do me right I am all about you!!) but there has been on product that has been on my mind since my trip out to Pisgah and I just have to talk about it.

When I got into mountain biking seriously I had to start thinking about nutrition on the trail.  There are a ton of products out there, but where to start?  As a newbie, I started with Clif Bars and Sport Beans.  Then, there was that secret stuff that the real athletes used... the two big names I'd hear about were Hammer Gel and GU.

I tried GU's Energy Gels first, and I liked them.  So, the search was done.  Ok, but what about other products, drinks and whatnot?

A while back I had bought a sampler pack from GU - which included (and was my reason for buying) a variety of flavors of Gel, Chomps, and some Brew.  To be honest I kinda put the Brew to the side at first as I really only drank water on the trail.

As the miles per ride grew, and effort increased, I knew I needed more.  Having been an "athlete" growing up it was easy to fall back to old faithful - Gatorade.  Ok... so fast forward a bunch and we find ourselves out at Pisgah for the weekend trip (if you'd like to relive my "glory" you can do so here, here, and here.  While getting my gear together for the trip, and figuring out what exactly I needed to pack, I came across the Brew Tablets that had come in the sampler pack.  To be honest, this stuff scared me.

Ok, just to make sure we are all on the same page... you've got GU Brew - which is the standard powdered drink mix mode.

And then you have the GU Brew Tablets... which, when they come individually packaged in the sampler, appear to be more of a Alka Seltzer type deal.

The "good"
The "when you feel ill"

So, fear of having a medicine-y fizzy drink had banished these glorious tablets to the bottom of my "nutrition basket."  That is, until the trip.  So as I'm gathering my nutritional supplements I decide to give the tablets a go.  Why not?  They'll take up NO room and I can easily just drop them in a bottle when/if I need them.

Let me tell you, I am SOLD!  These tablets are genius!!  Seriously simple and a super taste!!  Not overly sugary or sweat, but not bland or weak.  It's seriously the perfect flavor balance, and that is saying a lot because I like my sweet tea SWEET!!!  Seriously, when I have regular tea (you know, traditional english hot tea) I'm heaping sugar into my mug.  So for this to be the PERFECT level is nothing short of a scientific masterpiece.  Here is what GU has to say about this sweet product:

GU Electrolyte Brew Tablets are simple, light tasting and natural. They are invariably better than water alone and bring your system into balance more quickly by helping you retain more of the liquid you ingest.

Oh yeah, and performance wise it was right on as well.  Taking a swig of the Brew kept me feeling fresh and gave me the boost I needed to enjoy the amazing riding to be had out in Pisgah/DuPont land.

Whether through tablet or traditional powder form, Brew is the go to drink from here on out!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wild Turkey Ride

Thanksgiving gave me the opportunity to get a little riding done in West Virginia.  And by little, I mean one ride.  Eh, that's ok I guess.  Good times with family, good food, and a good ride equals a great holiday vacation.

So I rode a trail Sean had previously taken me to right in Morgantown, WV.  It was Sean's "home court" as it was literally in his backyard.  I recalled the general route we took years back, and that's where I started things off.  The trail is called Bakers Ridge, and it runs up behind the WVU farm.
View of the pastures from the trail.
What I really loved about the ride was that it was an undirected exploratory ride.  No one way trails, no predetermined loop, I was free to take any turn at anytime, and ride the trail in either direction.  Back to the basics, and it was good!

I ended up finding some sweet new trail up there.
New hard packed trail up on top of the ridge

Nice steep section with a jump (from the bottom)

And there was even a seesaw to boot!!

Bottom line, Morgantown is lucky to have such a sweet trail system right in town.  The trail isn't overly technical, but there are plenty of log crossings (with and without up and overs) but not too much rock - a few small gardens here and there.  But it's a great place to keep it moving, get some climbing in and rip some fast downhills... just watch out for the low trees and sneaky drops!

Tree hanging across the trail on one of the longer downhills... I was BARELY able to squeeze under the far right side - after I slammed the brakes of course!

A blue ballon marked this turn off which abruptly led to this beauty of a drop
Overall, it's a great cross country place, but with the new steep/jump line, big drop, and some other useable terrain, it could be a fun place for those big hit folk.  There was one jump built (but appeared neglected) and I noticed the MOST perfect line to hit on the way to the jump.

You could see remnants of a line.. but there appeared to be a lack of love shown for this section

Rock outcropping above the jump.  Rock on the right is the perfect roller into the jump

Rock on the right - from the side
It's nice to know there is an easily accessible trail anytime we are visiting family in WV... not enough time to get to Big Bear? - no problem, I'll be just fine at Bakers Ridge!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Ride

Yesterday I had to run a few errands as Annie was preparing for the big turkey day and it blew my mind each time someone would end our transaction with "have a wonderful/great/happy Thanksgiving."  I mean, I knew it was coming but it hadn't yet clicked that it was THIS week!

So, in honor of the mass amount of food to come... Happy Thanksgiving!!

"Don’t let your kids become Butterballs, get them on a Strider!"
Believe it or not I found that picture (and caption) on "The Official STRIDER Blog."

So, I hope everyone has some rides lined up to help you enjoy (guilt free) the gorging that is sure to come.  I will be visiting the in laws, so I'll be riding some WV trails.  I know of one local I can ride... and one a little drive away... and that should probably be enough to get the job done.  

So, with Thanksgiving upon us I'll probably be MIA till next week.  Maybe not... we shall see.  But if I am, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and fun.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

better late?

Ugh, didn't get to post up early this morning...

I've got a couple items I can choose from to ramble on about here... so I think I'm going to crunch two together for a quick recap here.

The other week I rode a new trail (to me) and it was pretty cool.  Well, the best feature of the ride was the fact that it was randomly 70+ degrees!!  I was talking to one rider at the trailhead and he said he had never seen the trails so busy, outside an organized race.  The trail in question is Fisher Farm.

The trails were well marked, and identified as easy (green circle), intermediate (blue square), and advanced (black diamond).  As with a lot of trails here that use these trail designation, there is always a negligible difference between the green and blue.  Which then, in effect, makes the labeled black diamonds more like blue squares.... hmmm, I have a hankering for Lucky Charms right about now.

Bucket O' Charms

There were two black diamond segments.  One which had a skinny at the "entrance" and was clearly avoided by most riders as evidenced by the piles and piles of leaves covering the trails (= no love for the trail).  I wouldn't say that this stretch was particularly difficult, more so "rough."  It consisted of frequent ravine dips, some with boards down a side and across the bottom (I'm guessing to help when it is wet out?), and of course the treacherous rootiness that some riders shy away from here.  The other black diamond segment provided a nice climb with a challenging boulder decent.  With the leaf cover I opted to walk it rather than take a nasty miscalculated tumble somewhere.  Another rider at the trailhead mentioned that riders had been med-evacuated because they have gotten "in over their head" on that section.  I can see that.

Overall, the blue square was a fun flowy route to follow.  On my first lap there was a blue square split, one going up and one going down, and I unknowingly picked the short cut (up).  On my second lap I found additional mileage I had missed by taking the "up" option - which also led to the "rocky" black diamond option.  It was also on this leg of the blue loop that I wiped out on a fast turn - leaves just slide out from under me.  It was ok, my left leg needed some road rash to match the scabs on the right leg from my last crash.

Overall, nice little trail.  I was clocking the mileage in at about 4 miles (less for that first lap where I accidently took the shortcut) and it was a trail that was easy to do multiple laps on without getting too bored of the terrain.  And, I guess it's part of the Wednesday night summer race series, so I may just be riding it more in the future.  It won't be a trail that is in the regular rotation as it is a little bit of a drive for me, and probably not enough pay off for just a regular ride.

Ok, the other bit of info is less involved.  I think I've put together a decent loop that is mostly bike friendly for the road bike (perfect, since it's "winter" and trainer season... right?).  There should be options to expand the loop section to add mileage on as needed/desired.  The "leg" to get out of town may be further refined to ensure easier navigation surrounding heavier traffic areas and whatnot... but it was an easy enough time.  So, that is exciting.  It's pretty key to have a road option right out your door... I mean that is the point of riding the road, the easy of it... if I'm going to drive to bike, you better bet it's going to be on dirt!!

I did get to wave at the mountain bikers getting ready to hit Sherman Branch as I rode by.

Friday, November 16, 2012

good lord

Media Fridays
We'll post videos or photos that will hopefully inspire trail shredding weekends.

Things have been falling apart in terms of keeping up with this... SORRY!  Still working on getting everything back in order - got my PhD application in and complete, so now that is a waiting game.  Now I've got to lock in a job so we can stop using our savings and I can start making money - but more importantly, get back into a routine.

Ok, life aside.... it is FRIDAY!!  so.... here we go!

So, I've been missing Wompatuck a lot lately... so here is a little video I found - not the race, but some footage of some of the course (as it had already been taped off).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


So, it was a quick fix for Georgia.  The front derailleur was gooed up by something - likely gatorade.  Silly - but I'm glad it was something simple.  The rear derailleur even got a little love and now everything is shifting super smooth again.  Job done, same day - $15.  Not bad!  Great little LBS for sure.

We had visitors this weekend - Annie's parents and their little wiener dog.  It was a dry-run for Thanksgiving, we had to make sure all the puppies got along before we went up there.  Good news, they got along just fine.  Good/bad news for me: gained a pound over the weekend/BUT I had already lost 3 going into the weekend.... so ended the week with a loss of 2 pounds!  Not bad for the first week back on track.... but still more track to get onto.  I need to start getting a workout routine going, as well as log more hours on the bike(s)(and of course trainer...).

I also think I have my build specs ironed out for the One9 - next step, start buying up parts.  I got a check in the mail from my car insurance in Mass since I had paid for the year but have since transferred to NC insurance (got to get my license and plates this week) - so free money!!  It will at least get the ball rolling on parts.

I'll keep you posted on progress once I start getting parts put on.

I hit up a new trail this weekend... but I'll tell you about that tomorrow.    Hopefully I'll get out for a ride or two today (might do a little night riding tonight) as long as this doesn't eat up all my time...

out today

Monday, November 12, 2012

oh crap!

The weather was so glorious (and I didn't have time to get to a trail) last Thursday that I decided to take Georgia for a spin around the neighborhood - maybe scout out a nice fast looper.

Things were going swell for the first block or so.... until I tried to switch from big to little ring.  POP.  Nothing.  I stopped and noticed tons o' slack in the cable to my front derailleur.  I attempted to shift back up.... stiff shifting and little movement in the derailleur itself.  Pop, pop, POP.  

Decision time - big ring or little ring, as I wasn't going to get movement during the ride.  I decided for a spinnier little ring ride.  

I have no idea what the deal was/is.  I haven't ridden Georgia since mid-September and everything seemed fine then?  Since then I've looked and cleaned and no real improvements.  Popping shifters and little movement on the derailleurs part (without assistance from my damn hand!).  

Well, I guess this will be a job for the LBS - I just hope it isn't a major deal.  On the bright side, I guess it will give me a chance to see what the shop can do in the bike build department to help me out (headset/bottom bracket install, wheel build, maybe brake install while it's in there as well) in the future.

Brighter side... I can still ride the dirt!!  

Thanks to all the men and women who have served our country!



Friday, November 9, 2012

Presidential Bike Racing

Media Fridays
We'll post videos or photos that will hopefully inspire trail shredding weekends.

So, this is just too funny not to post: enjoy!

And for some real footage - here is a video from Thom P's recent visit to Highland.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

There it is!

Yesterday I was feeling like an easier ride, so I hit up Colonel Francis Beatty yesterday.  During this ride I discovered two things.

1.  There is a black diamond trail section that I had previously missed.  It is when you come off the little road section and there is that rocky rooty "pro" line that arrows seem to dissuade you from taking.  I had previously not taken that line guessing it had been rerouted, but my curiosity got the best of me and I went for it yesterday.  Although I didn't clean it on my two attempts, I did see that there was a trail going off to the right up at the top with a black diamond designation.  I can't believe I had missed this before!!

Such a gem of a trail.  It provided actual technical challenges with some big rooty step ups and some actual log crossings that hadn't been built up with dirt or rocks to make them roll overs... it was quite nice to find!!  Riding that section also added a bit of an eery feeling when it got into some thick woods - almost felt like a dark forest from a fairy tale... brought you into a whole different world from the rest of the trail.  Def going to be a fixture in all future rides.

I even came across a feature on this section.  I didn't hit it because I was carrying so much speed coming to it that I didn't quite feel I'd be able to stay on it due to the approach angle... but it looked certainly rideable at a lower speed.

You can carry a bit of speed coming from that little hill in the background.

2. It was REALLY nice to spin.  According to my "suffer score" I was riding tempo 59% of the time - which is huge for me.  Lately it seems like I ride in threshold for the majority of my rides.  What was really nice about the ride was that I didn't necessarily feel like I was taking it that easy - I was just spinning more.  Good times for sure.  After the ride my legs were telling me that I got a good work out in - so I'll have to make sure I remember to use my gears and get spinning a little more often out there.

Although we aren't getting hit with snow like NE is, the temps have dipped and it was brisk out there.  Not horrible, but enough chill in the air to make you think about it at the start of the ride.  A long sleeve jersey is all I need so far - once you get moving and into the trees things tend to warm up.  But it makes me smile as I know conditions aren't as favorable up north - so I won't let myself us "low" temps in the high 40's/low 50s as an excuse not to hit the trails.

And of course, what ride would be complete without a little blood?  I took a corner with too much speed (combined with fallen leaves) and the bike slide out from under me.  I wouldn't call it a crash - but it did leave me with my left knee skinned.  Hey, I had to even out the injuries on my legs!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I'm really afraid I won't remember to vote, or be able to find the way to my designated voting place... maybe the kind annoying campaign people who have either stopped by the house or blew up my cell everyday for the past couple days can come by and walk me to the polls?

If I wait until like 6:30-7pm, you think they will come knocking on my door?

Of course I'll be voting today.  But that's it.  This isn't a political blog so that nonsense stops here.  Well first - make sure you get out and vote!!  Ok, that's it.  Well... here's a message and then I swear it's on to more interesting topics.

(old(er) people should vote too!)

Yesterday my first day of diet/training went... well.  I got a ride in and I'm back to looking at healthier meals and more appropriate portions. Of course the day I decide to start back on a health kick Annie comes home with some Bojangles'.  Cajun Chicken n' Biscuit - insanely awesome.  I'm not one for fast food, but I can't say no to this.  And their sweet tea is freakin phenomenal!!

So, with the unhealthy challenge facing me on my first day "back," it was time to hit the trail and earn the unhealthy goodness I was about to consume.  

For a while I'd wanted to hit up a trail I had been hearing about.  From the sounds of things it was a more natural, rugged trail with some decent climbs.  Perfect, I like a trail that makes me work.  So I hit up Steve's/Rocky River Trail.  It has only recently been dubbed Rocky River Trail, as the trail is on private land and the work of... well.... Steve.  Definitely a labor of love, and the trail was SWEET!!

It is a trail that begs you to go faster, and if you aren't careful you'll find yourself in over your head - or in my case, tumbling over your head.  I guess I was having a little too much fun enjoying some speed on the trail when I came over a little hump and my inner monologue kicked right in, "I REALLY hope my handlebar doesn't catch on that sapling!"  

I think even before the crash happened I was already planning the impending fall and scanning for where to angle my body.  Sure enough the left grip was slammed back at me and I went over the front. My arms over my head I aimed for a mid trail crash.  I was probably mid-air and horizontal with the bike before I got unclipped, my right shin smashing the frame.  I got separated from my bike and braced for impact.  I tucked and rolled and as my helmet hit the ground I had another thought, "I'm not going to tumble into that tree over there, am I?  It would really not feel good to smack my back on that thing!"

Somehow I pulled out some sort of breakdance move and paused as I was on my head (that, or I just didn't have enough momentum to complete the tumble).  I paused there (in reality I'm sure there wasn't much of a pause, but in my brain I was definitely aware of the pause and had time to think how uncomfortable it was) and then pushed myself all the way over.  

I sat up and took stock of everything for a second.  I pulled my helmet off - it was fine.  My right shin throbbed and my left foot hurt (must have struck the top tube on separation).  No real blood.  I stood up and dusted some of the leaves off of me - spotted a Gu that had been ejected from my jersey pocket so I gathered that up and checked to make sure I didn't lose anything else.  Picked up my bike - everything seemed to be in order, wheels spun fine, no dents/scratches that I could see.

So onward I pedaled.  Of course the crash was now in my head and I was scrubbing speed left and right.  Probably a good thing as there were a lot of twists and turns out there, and having never ridden the trail it was probably wiser to take a slower approach to get a sense for the terrain.  

The trail used the terrain very well.  And although the place was twisting, it didn't seem super tight or annoying.  I thought it was a very well planned out trail.  There was a bit of off camber stuff out there, which I can only imagine is a nightmare with any wetness on the trail.  There were three climbs out there, the first one caught me off guard and as I tried to shift down the chain dropped.  I got it back on and continued climbing... it kicked my ass.  I stopped and took a seat at the top to catch my breathe.  

For a second I wondered if the crash really took it out of me that bad.  It may have played a minor roll in my fatigue, but I think the real culprit was dehydration.  In the "colder" weather I've been drinking less water.  A LOT less water.  I haven't been drinking throughout the day like I typically do - so I think my body was ill prepared.  Anytime I did take a drink (it was gatorade) on the trail I instantly felt a burst of energy.  Note to self: get on top of staying hydrated!

Bottom line: loved the trail.  Definitely a place I'll be hitting up again and again.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's time

It's time for me to stop being super lazy and to take advantage of my time.
It's time for me to start back on the "diet."
It's time to start training - for real.

After a season of not (really) racing I've got to hit the winter training hard so next season I can do something out there.

PLUS - there is a winter short track series down here in Charlotte.  It's called short track - but I had no idea how short it actually was - until Sean and I hit it up this weekend.  I've ridden Renni before, and saw signs for the short track while riding the main loop.... but I always imagined that the race course pretty much encompassed the entire loop - as that would be shorter than any "real" race course.  But nope, the short track is less than a mile - with what seems to be about half of it consisting of a gravel road "climb" back to the start.

Should be a pretty interesting race series.  It's a timed race, so you get in as many laps as you can.  The've got some nice berms packed in there, and it's definitely a fast little loop.  There is a Team Competition which appears to be pretty big - and I've already been recruited (tentatively) for it.  I'll keep that under wraps until anything becomes official.

So the plan is - get my ass back in shape and ride the crap out of Renni (well, especially the short track).  I want to go in knowing the thing like the back of my hand - no room to be hitting the brakes because you are surprised by the trail.  There is one section where there is an option - a nice rocky burst of a climb - that I'm guessing is taped off during the race (as it doesn't seem to get much love anyway).  I do enjoy riding it, as it gives me a brief flashback to NE riding, but I guess I'll have to get in the habit of blasting the round-about.

No more excuses, training starts full throttle today.  Well... as "full throttle" as I can get.  I guess dedicated would be a better term.  So yeah, today starts my dedicated training.  Oh, and don't worry - fun will still be had.  I'll still be riding for fun - maybe a little harder, faster, or with more effort - but bottom line: mountain bike rides will still be fun!