Thursday, January 30, 2014

What a Waste!

So after I swept our walkway and sidewalk clear of snow and warmed up Annie's car for her it was back inside for a whole day to do whatever I pleased with.  With the Snake.2 coming this weekend I now had plenty of time to make sure gear was clean, the Glow Worm was running smooth, overthink/overpack clothing options, etc.  But first, it was time to have a cup of coffee (had a hankering for some reason) and sit down to some crappy movies.

And thus my morning progressed, crappy movie rolling into crappy movie.  Ok, now it's time to get up and be productive... but first - a couple time wasting video games.  Ok, it's still (barely) before the end of my "work day" so I can get a head start on getting stuff straight for this weekend.  Did someone say bikes?  Is that a sale on bike related products I see on the internerd?

I was now stuck in my chair.  Reading reviews, comparing prices, colors, options.  Hemming and hawing on whether or not to pull the trigger, or rather have Annie pull the trigger as she said she wanted to buy me something bike related but wanted me to pick it out (part of her Christmas gift to me).  It was down to two... and then wait for Annie to come home to get her input and then her credit card.  Purchase made - new sweet something coming my way - I'll share when they get here.

Annie was surprised by the price, much better than she was expecting - and really less than I had expected to be looking at but I found what I liked at a great price, so win-win.  But, knowing that there was money left (not really, but hypothetically) it was back to looking at prices for another probably future purchase.  Comparing, searching, battling between staying with the same brand/model or going "newer," you know, the drama of bike porn.

Before long Annie was done with her post work-work, and had played the piano, so it was time to sit down and watch a movie to relax together.  I had already been advised that we would be having a two hour delay the following morning so I had no strict bedtime.  All throughout the movie I had my fingers crossed hoping that in the morning our delay would be upgraded to a full on closure like so many other schools.  Not so much because I thought it was necessary, but because the guilt of wasting a day was weighing heavy on me.

Welp, no luck.  Off to school for a shortened day.  Then stopping at the store to pick up some last minute race gear before I clean bottles, sort clothes, clean the Glow Worm to "good enough" status and hopefully settle in to bed at a reasonable hour to get some solid rest.

Haven't been on the bike since Sunday and my knee is still a bit of a concern.  Although riding hasn't really bothered it while riding, I'm more concerned with any hiking.  I still feel lateral looseness/weakness and have since started sporting a light brace to see if that will help any.  Behind my knee continues to feel tight, as if I need to stretch - but stretching doesn't seem to make a difference...

Bright side of things -

race day weather is looking promising.  It will be interesting to see where start time temps are hovering.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Last night around 9pm I got THE text - school is cancelled for Wednesday.

I looked out the window and took the following picture.  I figured friend and family in New England would enjoy it/curse me.

I'm not sure how much snow we ended up with, but as I got up this morning and looked out the window I said "looks like I should get the broom and shovel the walkway."  It's got to be less than an inch.  To our snow filled winters of New England, this is absolutely mental.  But I'll take it.  It was 60 on Monday.... snow on Tuesday - a bit crazy, but it's a nice break mid week.  Truth of the matter, they have nothing in terms of plowing, salting/sanding so people really do panic road wise here.  On the facebooks I saw many posts from friend in Georgia about getting stranded due to road closures - not THAT sucks.  I don't know how I would be able to handle the police telling me I couldn't drive in an inch of snow...  luckily I didn't have to deal with that mess.

Before I was even able to assess the damage from the snow storm last night, my task of the day was a foot - fix a chair.  Crappy video... and you have to watch till the end... but one of the best lines ever (or at least to my brother and I, we are constantly fixing things via "the lug nut")

Saving Silverman Nacho Scene from Jonathan Poritsky on Vimeo.

This morning, I was actually able to fix a chair due to a loose/bust "lug nut."

Ok, now back to what I should have posted yesterday.  Here are my additions to the reports you have already likely seen from the Winter Short Track race on Sunday.

TheMutt's version: I was on the same side of the race as TheMutt, so all I can do is add pictorial representations for the most part.  I guess I can add that I rode over to the race on my Meuse, and that Dicky gave a verbal approval of the bike (or at least the look of it).

I put my heart into providing great cheer for the racers....

and then they ran it over.

Money was even fronted for their efforts - many riders snubbed our meager offerings.  But one racer, one GLORIOUS racer (Paul Cunningham) put his life at risk to earn our Washingtons.  TWICE!


PiƱata dodging and glitter sprinkling 
Spotting the dollar - ah, but it's too late...
Dropped his bike, sprinted back for the dollar
Narrowly escaping certain death by mountain bike
Stowing his (ground)dollar for safe keeping 

and... the money shot
(was over in the blink of a shot)

Paul snatched that dollar right out of the air!

Apparently no one other than Paul could see the dollars, so we jazzed dollar number 3 up a bit - maybe some sparkle would attract other riders??  The ante was upped a bit as part of dollar 2 was added to dollar three...

Purple sparkle dollar and a 7th
I do not believe anyone got the final dollar??

Dicky's version: Dicky was not wrong, he raced.

lap 1
lap 2

If I took the time to crop these they would look pretty damn similar (I mean, they already do.... but, you know...).  Dicky has some mean form.  But, things continued like this... pretty much the same thing multiple times so I stopped taking photos and opted for beer.

I had to put down my beer when I saw that Dicky made a mid-race wardrobe change.

I did get Dicky's second attempt at the pro line - he was looking good and I thought he might clean it.

But nope, he couldn't hold the line for the final rock...

 And had to bow out

Almost taking Tom Tom out in the process - look at those reflexes!

 And then DrunkCyclist (which was side line repping) had a strong showing IN the race - hand ups!!

Yeah, he's downing an IPA
Besides the cheering (heckling), glitter, pinatas, beer, and oh yeah... racing; there were families with kids and dogs.

And you know what?  Everyone got a long and had a great time!  

After that things wound down, I handed over my remaining glitter to a little kid who wanted it, and I rode home.  As a racer, I've always appreciated those that stand around in the woods and cheer us on - it's always a great boost.  Who knew that being on the other side could be just as much fun?!

Monday, January 27, 2014


It's Monday. Snake.2 is this Saturday and right now things are looking... ok.

My knee, although not relegating me to old man status (aches and pain under weight) as much, it is still making me aware of its existence. Behind my knee things seem tight, and as I ride I can feel a stretch or a burn back there. I don't feel that I'm getting overextended as I pedal, but I might just have to play with seat height to see if that will make the difference. Or, maybe I should actually do some stretching?  In any case, I'm thinking I might need to get a knee brace as my knee continues to "find itself."

Even with the burn, which I felt when out in Pisgah last weekend - thought it was just a tight muscle and did try to stretch it a few times on the trail - I was still able to ride without a problem. I just don't want to incur a long standing issue by pushing myself now on something that is tolerable. Ok, that might have sounded wishy washy... don't get me wrong, I'll be in Georgia Saturday. I'm looking forward to a (fingers crossed) much improved performance. 

But check out the preliminary weather forecast for Saturday!  

I'm loving the temperature for sure. Hoping the rain will get pushed back as we get closer, but we shall see. I have absolutely no idea what I'll do if rain is a real possibility. Historically I haven't worried about racing in the rain because my XC races were so short I'd just go race in my jersey and bibs. But I don't think I want to add soggy misery to this race if the rain was going to tag along. The jacket I wore for the first race is water resistant, but with temps in the 50s I would certainly overheat. Might have to do a little shopping for some proper rain gear - blah. 

I'll make that call Wednesday or Thursday, effectively screwing myself in the process I'm sure as I will have to settle for whatever I can scavenge locally. Who knows. Maybe I'll just garbage bag it if I get desperate. Ha ha. Depending on temps at the start of the race, and depth of the creek, I might just ride through this time. 

Can't believe round two is here already!

I'll let everybody else (TheMutt, Dicky) talk about the Winter Short Track today... I'll cover what they missed (or reiterate the really cool parts) tomorrow.

Friday, January 24, 2014

far away

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

Some people get to ride in amazing places like this... *cough cough* Sonya Looney.

I, on the other hand, get to drool over the words and videos of others.

Something Good from Gary Thomas on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

slow roll

Monday - MLK Day.  No work.  No blogging.  Bike ridding - as Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted it.

Tuesday - Hands/arms so worn out from descending Heartbreak on a rigid that blogging was not feasible.  The leaf cover provided no help with either picking lines or preparing for the crap I was rolling over. 

Wednesday - Best of intentions to blog... but things go hectic REAL quick.  Sooooo no blogging.

So let's rewind here real quick and cover the important stuff that has happened since last week.  I've ridden my bike... twice!  AND I've dropped some weight - despite two (one accidental) restaurant week adventures.  

Sunday I braved the greenways to get the legs moving again.  Families are great and fun - I love seeing little kids on their little bikes - good times.

Running/jogging two a breast taking up the whole damn greenway with BOTH earbuds (BOTH PEOPLE) in so that you can not hear my numerous calls leading to me scaring the sh*t out of you as my wheel is about up your ass before you acknowledge my existence... not so much.  Mind you, at this point I'm going pretty damn slow.  Hell, I don't care about having to track stand because a kid is waving a stick around like he just doesn't care... Just be a responsible adult and be freakin be aware of your surroundings and share the path.

After the ride, my knee felt pretty good.  NICE!  First test down... real test to come.  That night we went out for meal number one of restaurant week (planned) for a friend's birthday.  I felt like I had a food baby after that meal... but damn was it good. As I got up from the table my knee was stiff and painful, uh oh.  Luckily it seemed pretty alright by the end of the night. The next morning I had no pain.

Monday it was up early to head to the mountains and meet with with DWayne and his buddy Tyler... it was time to do some climbing and see where I was at after my injury forced hiatus after the Snake.  I was a little worried - more so in terms of cardio than my legs (I wasn't scared to hike if I needed to).  But, everything was pretty damn good!  Couldn't have asked for a better day really.  Trail was dry (mostly) and the temps were pretty friendly - long sleeve under my jersey and I was good to go!

We shuttled from Andrew's Geyser to start our climb up Rattlesnake (fitting start to my Snake prep - eh?) to Old Toll and down Heartbreak.

Overall I felt pretty good climbing.  I was running the same gearing I did at the Snake, and it felt good.  It was a long climb - much longer of a sustained climb than I've ever done before, but the trail kept thing interesting. Old Toll was not just a cleared forest road, it was littered with rocks. Nothing too horrible, but enough to keep you moving around the trail, picking lines, and getting out of the saddle to navigate. Overall the grade was pretty nice as well. On the few sections where the trail was on the smoother side it almost felt like I was getting pulled up the hill. Just a perfect gradient to stay on top of the pedals and get in a nice groove where it seemed almost effortless (at least for a little while).

And sometimes there was ice... this was the largest ice field we came upon.
Being my first time on this route we of course had to stop for the obligatory "tourist shots" of the views. Classic "not there yet" stuff. Ran into some old timers cutting down trees for fire wood. Saw the bear cabins and learned that the hunters owned something like 500 acres up there. Pretty neat time overall. 

1st lookout stop

2nd stop - almost there??
Before I knew it we were at the top, or at least as far as we were going. At this point I wasn't wondering when it would end - so I guess that's a good sign?  So we took a quick break and discussed the upcoming downhill. 

Made it.  Home sweet... home?
If you haven't ridden heartbreak before (as I hadn't), here is a little friendly advice - do not ride it rigid!  Bigger stuff aside (there really wasn't a ton if that anyway) there is A LOT of trail chatter. And there is a lot of descending ahead. It was a workout for sure to just hold on. Perhaps it is a bit easier on the hands and arms when the trail is clear so you can better prepare and loft over more stuff, but I was constantly plowing through leaf covered rocks/roots that I had no way to prepare for. I felt horrible slowing the guys down so much, but, I didn't want to fly of the side of the mountain because I couldn't hold on to my handlebars any more so I took my damn time.  And yes, the chance of taking a dive off the side of the mountain is real. The trail is quite narrow in places with steep drop offs. Add in some off camber roots and you've got a recipe for potential disaster. The only saving grace where the rhododendrons that evidently had caught more than a few fallen riders, saving them from tumbling down the mountain side (you could clearly see areas that had been beaten down by bodies and bikes).

Looking back from Heartbreak... we climbed up from over yonder... somewhere.
Once we started hitting switchback after switchback I knew it was almost over.  Some of the switchbacks were sketchy as all hell and I'm not ashamed to say I walked some.  It was always exciting to get through one on the bike though - I made a few of those.  Before we got spit out onto the road there was a tiny tiny bit of climbing - which for once I was grateful for.  I was totally ready to climb after getting beat up so much on the downhill.  But we were out on the road coasting back to the cars before I knew it.

Time for a beer and then back on the road to Charlotte.  One thing about mountain biking - no matter how much you suffer during the ride, once it's done it is so damn easy to look back with a huge grin on your face.  I loved the climbing - no matter how hard it was during... and "appreciated" the downhill.  Definitely need the HiFi, or at least some squish on the Glow Worm next time I do this route.  But overall it was a great day.  And in the end I think it will be very beneficial for me come the next installment of the Snake.  If nothing else, I think I learned a thing or two about pacing myself on those climbs.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Down the road...

I almost skipped today, did you notice I didn't post yesterday?  I think I missed out Tuesday too...  I dunno. It's probably going to be like this until March. I'm going to try my best not to be a slacker, but this slacking is two fold. Mountain biking has all but shut down in these parts due to rainsssssss and work is just jam packed with happenings. A busy and non bike riding Eastwood is not the Eastwood you are looking for.

All that aside, I was ready to swallow another skip today when my facebooks reminded me about this. Pisgah Monster Cross

This is something I should do. This is something the Meuse has been begging me to do. I know... it's a needy bastard. But who can really complain about a bike that just begs to be ridden?  So I do have to check the logistics (aka - make sure I'm not committed to anything else that weekend) - I'm not a good planner and this season is already shaping up to be the season of a variety events/race types. 

This season will be a wild ride that will certainly teach me many a lesson. I've already been stomped by the Snake, but I hope to have my revenge come February... er March. Immediate plans are to go beat myself up in Pisgah on one of the many death marches available. DWayne and I plan on hitting up Heartbreak Ridge on Monday. But, if I have some free time today, perhaps I can throw some money into the internerds and commit myself to the Pisgah Monster Cross Challenge. 

So, not a very "media" friendly post today. But this did come across my screen via media sharing on the facebooks. Totally. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Exhausted Bigfoot

It's days like these that I wish I drank coffee. 

Like that old school computer, the thing takes floppy disks!!

I was at school last night until after 8pm. My ONLY solice is the fact that it's been wet here so there was no group ride anyway.  I did get to leave school for a little. My first after school meeting ended at 5 with the next starting at 7. Not enough time to make going home worthwhile, but too much time to stick around - I was DONE. So, I figured I could waste some time at the mall. 

Lame, I know. But, totally worth it. Check out this amazing score!

Yeah that's a Bigfoot sweater!!  And you better believe I'll be wearing this to school on Friday!  That is my carrot to make it through this week. That, and the fact that it's a three day weekend. 

The ache is still there in my knee, but I'm feeling like I should be back on the bike... you know, when I get some free time. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Missed Opportunities

This weekend was a wash for bikes. Saturday was raining/wet so the trails wouldn't be an option. It was torturous because the temperature (which had been in the teens and twenties early/mid week) was back up in the 60s!!

With my knee still janky from my crash last weekend I wasn't going to push for a road ride. Sunday my plan was to ride over to the winter short track race to support/heckle/take pictures (and maybe even throw some... glitter?). Saturday night I faced a bit of insomnia so Sunday came around with me exhausted. I hoped I could get an early morning power nap in to get into a right state of mind to attend the races at a respectable hour. Fatigue coupled with the continuation of knee pain made me miss the festivities. 

I really did not want to risk aggravating it with riding to and from the race. I could have driven. But the thought of walking around in the woods all day sounded a bit risky as well with my knee concerns. I likely would have risked it if I had slept right... but I'm kinda glad I didn't. Likely wouldn't have been a good move for my knee. Although, this morning my knee is feeling a lot better as it doesn't seem to pain me so much with movement anymore. Instead, there is more of just a lingering and constant dull pain.

All that being said, the weather was PERFECT yesterday for the race... guess Mother Nature didn't know it was a WINTER short track series. I'm sure you'll be able to catch up with all the shenanigans I missed out on over with TheMutt

This week looks like it will be a giant loss as well in terms of riding. I have meetings after school Monday, Tuesday (with a presentation to attend at 7pm!!!!), Wednesday, AND Thursday. Full week for sure.  My only hope is that my knee will be solid for this weekend as DWayne and I might head to the mountains for some torture training. I guess this week I can show the Glow Worm some love and clean it all up and make it like new again, it still has that Georgia mud on it. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Since The Snake I've been sick and I've been hobbling.  

I guess Mother Nature has taken pity on me and dropped the temperatures around here to the teens, and maybe some single digit action here or there. How could this be a sign of pity you ask?  GREAT question. 

Well, you see, these low temperatures down here have earned us a two hour delay on both Tuesday and Wednesday. So for me (who was out sick on Monday) this has given me two days two sleep in a little later to get more rest and ease my way back into the swing of things. Today is a full day, bummer...  

Illness wise I'm feeling better. Things have transitioned from a throat/fever thing to a sinus war. My knee felt pretty good on Tuesday... until I was standing and walking around for lunch duty. I could feel some not so enjoyable lateral play in my knee. At the end of the day when I got up to leave I was welcomed back to the stages of pain and stiffness. Yesterday it was a painful chore to get up out of my seat. After taking some ibuprofen things seemed to improve some so I guess I will just need to be proactive with the pill popping, and maybe throw a brace on for some extra support. 

The good thing is that the swelling (for the most part) seems to have subsided and there is no dark bruising - which calms my concerns that things could have been bad (ie. a tear). Fingers crossed it's just a bruised bone or something, after all, I got me some boney knees. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snake TT #1 Part 2

After getting everything set I was ready to push on. I saw another rider readying himself and thought that I should get out ahead of him since I was on a singlespeed and it looked like we were getting straight into more climbing. With motivation was low I let him get out first. Another singlespeeder jumped in the mix and before long we were both stuck behind some geared riders. I didn't much care because I wasn't going to be hauling ass anywhere, so being held up for a second was just fine for me - I'd be pushing my bike WAY more than I'd like to ever admit up ahead.

Throughout the entire day EVERYONE on the trail was great. Greetings as we passed by each other. Everyone was quick to let me by as I caught them - which I greatly appreciated, but somehow felt I didn't deserve. At times I was hesitant to pass because my confidence was shaken and I worried it wouldn't be long until they caught back up to me. But most of the time the pass did pay off and held. 

I did hear one message throughout the day that I had a hard time accepting: "you are my hero!"  I guess it didn't matter that I was having my ass handed to me, people were impressed that I was out there on a rigid singlespeed. For most of the trail it was exactly the right bike for the job. I can't fault the bike at all for the climbs. I don't think I can even second guess my gearing (doesn't mean I'm still not pondering a change) because it really came down to my own physical/mental performance - or lack there of.  But yeah, the Glow Worm was the right weapon for the job. 

The only sections I kinda wished for something with a little more... cushion... were the blazing fast and fun descents on the ridge line. They weren't overly technical, just bumpy and fun, and decently long. Although I had been out in Bent Creek hammering through the gnar on a descent and felt AMAZING, my arms were feeling the burn on this trail.

It was my forearms that first screamed at me. They felt like they were swelling to Popeyes proportions and at times I was wishing for the end of the decent as I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold on much longer. Sure enough, on an unassuming turn I couldn't hold it and my front wheel washed out and down I went. I had just passed a group of guys on the climb up so it wasn't long until they retook me - checking to see if I was ok as they flew by. I was. The bike looked ok, my elbow and knee had a twinge of pain, but seemed to be functioning so I pushed on. Luckily my confidence was only shaken for a short time. Well, that and the fact that there really weren't a lot of downward facing trails to blaze through after that spill. 

The next big descent before the fire road climb up to the last section of singletrack was less of a trail and more if a staircase!  This thing was root drop after rock drop, throw some sharp turns in there and you have an idea of what I was facing. Here it wasn't so much my forearms burning as it was my triceps as I was trying to stay as far off the back of my saddle as I could as I maneuvered through the step trail, picking through the drops. At the bottom I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I made it through clean. I had to shake my head as I made my way towards the "final" stretch as now my legs AND arms were sore. 

I hit the last sag station with one bottle left. I thought about pushing through, but decided to refill a bottle just in case. From here there was 6 miles of "the hardest stuff out here" left, followed by 2 miles of road back to the snake pit and finish line. I filled my bottle, ate a little and downed some mustard before I pushed off. 

Soon it was evident that this last section would step up the rock game. At first I loved every second of it. It was a blast picking lines through and over rocks. I started having fun by taking the "pro" line over the crap instead of taking the clear line around. But the combo of rocks, pitch, and fatigue had my speed down a bit too slow for comfort.  There were a few short climbs, and energy spent maneuvering made me curse upward travel. I probably made the first 1/3 relatively cleanly. Then came a mix of riding and hiking. Then came The Wall. This thing was unreal. SUPER steep pitch. Nice switchback thrown in for good measure to dissuade most from even attempting to ride, yet I hear there are some out there that do indeed ride it. I honestly have no idea how one could, but I'm sure they can - I owe anyone out there that can clear it a beer and a high five - you've earned it!

After hiking The Wall I was ready to be done. I soon found myself hiking. I was getting tired if riding and stopping to get over something that my current state wouldn't allow me to tackle so I just never got back on.  Until someone passed me. 

When someone passed me it helped bring me back to reality that I could be riding this stuff and I'd get a (temporary) burst of energy/confidence and hop back on the saddle. Soon I was on a good stretch and I was able to pick through on my bike.  Suddenly I came upon a rider fixing a flat. I stopped to offer help, and lent him a tire lever. As I chatted with him I realized he could handle things and I did want to be finished sooner than later so I left him with my awesome Pedro's tire levers hoping I'd see him at the finish. 

After crest after crest of expecting to see the radio tower it finally came - I was actually worried I had missed a turn as the ridge line rock fest seemed to go on FOREVER!  From the radio tower it was mostly all downhill. First down a gravel service road, to old asphalt, short singletrack to a short pavement climb and then twist and turn down. I was happy to tuck and coast down the hill - hitting up over 30 mph letting my hub hum. Seeing the cones ahead taking the right lane for us was the most glorious sight... I had made it. Up over the curb, short grass turn uphill to a gravel parking lot finish.
I made it.  All of a sudden all the doubt and fatigue left me.  I had complete 34 miles and 5000+ ft of elevation.  Sure, it was much slower than I had hoped, but in that moment it didn't matter.  I was done.  Texting ensued to catch up with Dwayne and Mike (who had finished and left on their journey back to NC) and to let me wife know that I was still alive.  I headed back to the pterodactyl to change so I could get some delicious chili.  As I pulled my leg warmers off I discovered that my crash left a nice bloody skinflap on my knee. No biggie

 Post skin flap - that stuff is just gross to look at, so you are welcome!

Got my chili and waited around for a bit to see if I could recover my tire levers... I couldn't wait - I had a 5 hour drive ahead of me and I surprising felt like I could drive... so I took off.  Sunday morning when I woke my knee was a whole different story - I could barely walk on it!!  I don't know what is going on with it - it kills me when I stand after sitting for a prolonged period of time - like at work, and is a little swollen.

Rest assured, I am NOT on the toilet. 
I'm hoping it's just a bad bruise, but only time will tell.  It's too damn cold out to be riding anyway, so I'll take the next couple of days to rest up before I get back at it and prepare for round 2.  Of course I'm coming back!!  I mean, what kind of "hero" would I be if I just gave up??

I hope to see some of you out there - if you haven't tangled with the Snake, you should!  Regardless of the crapfest of a performance I put out in round 1, it was a blast of a course to ride!! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snake TT #1 Part 1

I was meeting D-Wayne and his buddy Mike down in Dalton since I had to work Friday. As I was leaving school my garmins led me to believe I would arrive at 7:15 - with stops for gas I knew it would be a little later, but that sounded pretty good to me!  Two accidents within a mile or so of each other had something to say about that ETA so Dwayne was kind enough to pick up my number for me.

As I was getting settled in discussions turned to what to wear. First thing first, I had my new team kit in my hands (for a second).  Due to the temps, no one see it anyway, but the kit is going back for a few minor adjustments. That being said, the thing is SICK!  Seriously, I may enter races (or maybe just show up and just hang out) to show this thing off!  If your team (or even just YOU) need a new design hit up Dwayne. The guy is super easy to work with, lightening fast with responses and works tirelessly to get you what you want. Oh yeah, and he's a mountain biker - can't get much better than that, now can you?  (He also races cx and rides the roads, so you folks will feel equally at home working with Dwayne). Seriously, if you have a need or even just an idea please consider talking/emailing Dwayne, you won't regret it. 

So before I had to give the kit back I of course took some creepy hotel bathroom selfies.

The rest of the night was filled with going back and forth with wardrobe thoughts. When I left for GA it looked like it was going to be in the 30s by race time. When I got to GA it looked like mid 20s for the start, that didn't sound fun at all. But, it did make my choice easier. With temperatures staying that low I felt confident that I would be able to wear my jacket the entire time and not have to worry about needing to shed it with huger temps. In the end I went with my jacket and a short sleeve jersey - it was perfect. By the end of the first half I did have the jacket unzipped half way. 

The plan was that Dwayne and I would be racing the full 34 miles while Mike was riding the 17 (he had ridden it before and said all the fun stuff was in the second half anyway).  As we got down to the snake pit to load our bikes and shuttle to the start Dwayne throws his bike in the 17 miler trailer... the hell?  In the minute from the hotel to the parking lot he changed his mind, looked like I'd be going it alone. Turns out it was probably a really good idea for him as he ended his race feeling pretty damn ill. 

I placed my bike with the other 34 milers and waited to get moving. A couple things going through my head while we were transporting: Damnit, I should have brought my bottles with me on the bus - they are probably going to freeze on the way to the start (they didn't, but that was a scary risk - I was thinking if ways to heat them up the whole ride to the start). It was getting warm in the bus, so much so that I had to shed my gloves as my hands were sweating. Yet my feet were cold!  My feet are always cold. ALWAYS. Even with thin wool socks and DeFeet Woolie Boolies on my feet were cold on a warm bus.

The other thought battling my potential water bottle issue, what to do about the creek crossing. My main plan was to strip cleats and socks and walk across. I had extra socks (mostly to use to dry my feet) and really didn't like the idea of risking wet feet in suck cold weather - especially with my naturally cold feet!  When we arrived I had to wait for the trailer with my bike to show for a few minutes. By the time it was all said and done I was starting around 10:00 and the temperature forecast didn't look so bad. 

I've always been good with temps over 30, so I felt good with what I had on - although still a little conserve end with the possibility of overhearing. In all I had one two pairs of wool socks, leg warmers, bibs with baggies over them (last minute decision to also wear boxers - didn't want any chance of my junk freezing over the 34 miles), short sleeve jersey, and bike jacket (rated for I think 60, but worthless to me unless it's at least under 40), my cyclone winter gloves with the inserts of my snowboarding gloves, and a balaclava (helmet, cleats, glasses of course). 

I planned out nutrition for 5 hours with individual Osmo packets for bottle refills at the aid station (had 2 bottles) and packets of mustard if the cramps came to play. 

By the time I was starting there weren't many of us left (I'll be sure to get to the snake pit earlier in February) so it was go when you were ready - I had heard it was a 5 at a time start. I started alone, which was great as it removed any temptation to destroy myself off the start. I did try to keep things up on the fire roads to the creek to get my legs going.  I think my legs had gotten out of the car and decided to walk the rest of the way as I say in traffic in Greenville, unfortunately they didn't make it for the start of the race. All day I had burst of great performance out if them, and then bouts of childish protesting from them. I never knew which I would face each time I came to a climb - it was a fun little game they were playing with me. 

The creek crossing.  My feet were frozen as they hit the ground before I even got to the water, which made the water not so bad really...  The only thing that saved my feet for the rest of the race was the fact that the race promoters gave us a goodie bag that had in it those packet hand warmers... when I put my socks back on I slide on in - my feet were not cold the rest of the race (or at least I didn't notice).  

After the creek it was straight to business with a climb.  It was a doubletrack climb that I grinded away on.  There was a singlespeed rider up ahead of me so he was my carrot the entire climb.  I caught him as we entered singletrack toward the top as he stopped.  I pressed on for a short time until I stopped myself to drink something.  Throughout the first half of the race anytime I "stopped" I tried to at least be walking.  The trail in the first half was "nice."  Nothing, trail wise, challenging - but there wasn't much relief from an upward tread, so it wore on me.  There were times (when my legs weren't cooperating) when I started thinking about the possibility of throwing in the towel at the halfway mark... if I was struggling this much now how would I make the rest of it?  But then... then I would hit bursts where my legs felt right on and I powered through climbs.  Toward the end the trail starting turning down - the end was near.... signs appeared to check your speed - and of course in this "dangerous" speed trap the camera guy was posted up... he had a good spot - a nice hump to allow riders to air it out - not sure that I really got off the ground - I was more interested in enjoying the downward ride than grabbing a great picture.  Up ahead... the road.  And the pit stop.

I made it.  I instantly knew I wasn't done - I could make it.  I think I pulled in at a little under 2.5 hours.  Slower than I had hoped, but considering how I was feeling it felt like I was "ok."  During the pit I ate the rest of my clif bar I had been trying to eat while riding (I was also downing gummy worms while riding), finished the remainder of my one remaining bottle, and then refilled both of them dumping in my single serving of Osmo, and downed two packets of mustard.  I wanted to do as much as I could to stay ahead of any cramping.  So far, so good.  My pace was a bit slow during the pit and I had to zip my jacket back up as I started getting cold.  I knew I should get going, but I couldn't seem to pick up the pace to get everything ready to go.

I did eventually get going... but we'll get into the second half tomorrow.