Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm not dead...

Hey there!

I'm still around... just not biking.  Figured I'd give a quick update as to where I stand physically.

My chest/ribs are steadily getting better.  I'm feeling like I could probably handle riding breathing wise at this point.  The deep breathing/laughing/coughing/sneezing issue has moved from excruciating pain to an annoying "burn," so I can deal.

My shoulder... if you asked me 3 days ago - it was getting worse.  This morning though... I've noticed an increase in my range of motion.  Pain is still there, but I can actually lift my arm higher and reach around my body further - so that is a positive... slow positive... but movement in the right direction.

I'm afraid that I'll still be off the trails for a while more, but I'm hopeful that I can at least get on skinny tires and hit the pavement... and maybe even gravel??  But I'll start slow and start hitting the trainer -FUN!

Friday, August 15, 2014

like a glove

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

I forgot to mention (I think I forgot to mention) that soon after we left for Copper Harbor I had an icky feeling that I left my brand new gloves at home.  When we got to our free camp site I checked... no gloves.  Annie confirmed for me that they were indeed sitting on the dining room table.

Luckily for me I had opted to leave my old, smelly, shredded gloves in the pterydactyl for "emergencies" (aka - I never throw stuff away even when I should).  So I guess that paid off...

Since I didn't get to utilize my fully functional new gloves for SSUSA I figured I'd start the weekend early last night and put them to good use.

It felt good knowing my Jameson was safe in my gloved hand.

Since I will be sidelined with injuries and won't be able to ride this weekend, tear it up for me, will you?

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Saturday morning we headed into Copper Harbor to get ready for the race/ride after Zac enjoyed the free breakfast at our hotel - I opted for the bagel, cream cheese and turkey that I brought.  As we were getting ready and waiting for the start there were some great costumes - I didn't get any pictures because there is zero service in Copper Harbor so I opted to leave my phone in the pterodactyl.  Typically I do carry my phone with me in case of emergencies, but since it would be useless in an emergency situation, I left it behind.  I also did not plan to stop to take pictures during the ride.  Sure, I wasn't going to be in contention to win this thing, but I didn't need to have an excuse to take it easy and stop for pictures.

We headed out of town en mass and up some gravel roads.  I tried to size up the crowd and figure who I wanted to get into the singletrack ahead.  There was a rider with a dog, which was cool... but the dog seemed confused as to who it should be following, so I made sure to get up ahead so as to avoid any pooch related issues.  My legs felt pretty good on the rolling hills.  Maybe they would bounce back from yesterday?

Soon we hit the singletrack, it was some rarely ridden trail which was littered with rocks and roots.  Before long things were slowed and stopped as people fumbled over roots, and then over rocky descents.  At one juncture I wondered aloud if it would be faster to run at this point as people were stopped before a descent.  The rider in front of me said "walking is never faster than riding," to which I agreed, but with the traffic we were experiencing I wasn't so sure.  I took off on foot and hiked down the pro line as the pile up on the B line continued.  I was off ahead of the crowd... I guess walking is sometimes faster.

Soon we hit "stairway to heaven" and the trail turned upwards.  It wasn't long until my legs protested and my brain shut off.  From here on out climbing was horrid.  I could push myself through some of it, but eventually I would have to dismount to hike, or to rest for a few seconds to let a rider behind me pass.  I was losing ground on the climbs, but funny enough, I was gaining ground on the descents!    I was finding that I was able to ride more of the technical than some of the riders around me so I rode as much as I could to try to stay competitive.  I certainly did not ride everything, but I rode it where I could to and was able to pass people who had caught me on the climbs.

The first of the aid stations was at the top of a long switchback climb almost halfway through the race.  At this point I was dying, and grateful for the stop as I was almost out of liquids.  I refueled and took a short brake before heading out onto the edge trail.  I had seen video of this trail and it looks fun and contained one of the most famous parts of the trails at Copper Harbor - the wooden bridge switchbacks.  With the line of riders ahead and behind it was kinda interesting on there trying to pace yourself to not ride up on someone, but not to hold others up at the same time.  I felt good on them, hitting the wooden bermed sections on pass two and three.  I was almost through, turning to ride the last bridge - it had a bermed piece as well so I hit it as it had worked on the other bridges.

This one was STEEP, my wheels slide down and I had lost it.  As my bike slide from under me heading to the uphill side I was headed over the wooden berm downhill... headfirst.  Slow motion kicked in and I first tried to avoid a wooden post I was headed for, success.  But now I was head first heading toward the ground below.  Not exactly sure how I landed, but my helmet did serve it's purpose on impact.  I was sitting up and people were yelling to see if I was alright.  Everything felt ok, I started to get up.  "Don't get up, we'll come get you!"  "Are you sure you are alright?"  I thought for a second... my shoulder hurts.  I was able to move my arm and rotate it so as far as I was concerned I was good to go.  I climbed out of the ravine I was in and sat above the trail as riders started moving again.  Jim (from Charlotte) was not far behind me when I went over and I told him I was ok as he passed.  A couple other riders I had been back and forth with checked in with me before they continued on.  I told them to keep going and I would try to catch up.  The volunteers/spectators offered to help me up the hillside back out onto the road to get looked at and end my day.  I wasn't ready to end my day.  I still had half the course to hit, and to be honest I wasn't happy with the way I was riding and I didn't want to take the "easy way out" with an injury.  Everything felt functional, so that was good enough for me.  The Glow Worm seemed pretty good too... had a nice scratch on her and one of my bottle cages was cracked, but was still functioning enough.  I was again warned that they could help me out of the trail here, but if I kept going I'd be on my own... I thanked them for their help and headed out.

Not 1/4 mile down the trail I put in some effort to get over a rock and my legs seized up.  I got off the bike and started massaging my thighs... My muscles had tightened up from impact no doubt.  After some quick work on them I pedaled on and pushed through the tightening muscles - they started to loosen back up and I was actually having some fun pushing it as fast as I could through the swoopy turns.  Before long we hit another aid station.  It seemed way to close to the other, and there was some confusion as to whether or not we would hit the first one again on our way back so I tried to take advantage of this one.  The volunteers there were great, filling my bottle for me before I headed out with a small group.  We rode together for a bit but some of the steep rocky downs started stretching us apart.  My legs were falling off fast and as things started going up again I was dropped.  I trudged on alone.  My body seemed to be falling apart and I was going through liquids like crazy.  As I was winding up the hillside on some grassy switchback thoughts of ditching started coming through my head.  I thought about cutting the course and just walking straight up the hillside.  I thought about hitting the first road I saw back to town.  I tried my best to battle those self defeating thoughts and kept pedaling and hiking.

Finally I popped out at a road crossing where I was lucky enough to get some more water.  The volunteer there confirmed that we would be hitting the aid station again, but said there was probably 5-6 miles to go (2-3 of climbing) before hitting the final descent and heading back to town.  OR I could take the road back down to town...  I didn't like the sound of 5-6 more miles, but felt like I could get through.  Another rider rolled up saying that they were told the course was under 30 miles and they had 24 miles on their computer... so maybe not so long.  I decided to push forward and finish.  We hit an awesome section of trail that was super flowy and swoopy, it was fun pushing it through that section before the last climb back to the aid station.  We ended up getting to hike back up the wooden bridges that had taken me out.  I rested a bit at the final aid station and let the group head out ahead of me as I was completely spent.  I knew that anything uphill would have me soft pedaling so I didn't want to get in anyone's way as we were making back down the mountain.

The descent wasn't as fun as it should have been.  I was exhausted and overly concerned about making a dumb mistake so I took it easy.  As I finished I chatted with some of the group I had finished with and saw a couple of the guys I had been back and forth with before I crashed.  Throughout the evening I had a couple people come up to check on how I was because they either saw me go off the bridge or heard about it... I guess I was famous for all the wrong reasons.

Pasties were enjoyed, beers were drank, games were enjoyed, and shenanigans were in abundance.  Long story short - SSUSA is in Wisconsin next year, not North Carolina.  I was sore after the race, a hole in the back of my jersey with a nice cut down my back.  My right thigh was pummeled and bleeding (with a tiny hole in my bibs) and my chest was bruised all to hell.  I felt like an old man, but I would survive.  As Zac and I were leaving town after waiting around to find out where this thing would be held next year we decided to just drive on through to NC.  It was already 11pm and it didn't seem to make sense to stop in 2.5 hours to camp... not 1 mile out of town a state trooper came flying down the road lights and sirens blaring - looks like the shenanigans were getting out of hand.  Zac and I traded driving pulls and it wasn't so bad.  We got back to Charlotte around 7pm on Sunday.

I visited the doctor yesterday where they took x-rays of my shoulder and chest.  He didn't seem too concerned with the shoulder and said if it wasn't better in 6 weeks then we'd do an MRI.  As soon as I took my t-shirt off and he saw the bruising on my chest he said "Oh yeah, you broke something."  By poking we were able to pinpoint the are of injury to basically right over my heart.  It hurts to breathe deep, laugh, or cough so I am out of commission for a while.  I have, however, been cleared to "walk,"so that's good...  When the x-rays came back on my chest my doctor was perplexed because he couldn't see any break, but has never seen that much bruising without a break.  Radiology will be looking at it today, but whether it's broken or not there is no difference in treatment (treatment being, don't do stuff).  The only difference would be the time of healing.  If no break I could be looking at getting back to riding in 2 weeks.  If a break, 6 weeks.  Fingers crossed. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting there

So my recap hasn't come nearly as quickly as I should have... I mean, I got back Sunday evening after 20 hours in the car.  But, since the trip I've been dealing with "residual effects."  I'll get into that in a later post, probably with more details than if I had gotten this whole story wrapped up sooner - so I guess maybe that is a win?

Anyway, let's start at the start of this whole adventure.

I showed up at Zac's place slightly after 6:00 am to get our boogie on.  The plan - knock out a lot of the driving on Thursday so Friday would be easier driving with some riding in there.  So we drove 13.5ish hours up to the Mackinac Bridge and scored a free camp site.  On the way there we hit a stretch of highway backwards...

It was very bizarre as one side of the highway was shut down and there was no sign of southbound traffic anywhere... made us wonder a bit how we would get home?

Anyway, once we got up to the bridge we scouted the "legit" free camp sites with numbers and all, but they were full.  So we snagged a clearly used, but less legit, site.  It was nice.  After we set up it was time to enjoy a beer and take a stroll down to the water.

We were on a lake, but not one of the great ones...

Once I got used to the sound of mosquitoes buzzing (all on the outside of my hammock) and the sound of some four legged creature rummaging in the forest not too far away, I slept great!  We woke up with the sun and checked out the beach down the road on one of those giant lakes they have up in those parts.

We stopped in for a quick breakfast before crossing the Mackinac.  The sun greeted us as we crossed.

And like that we were in the UP (Upper Peninsula).  We headed to Marquette where we got our ride on at the South Marquette Trails.

The trails were great.  They had a little something of everything, and a little something for everyone.  We weren't able to ride everything, but I think we got a good mix of what was out there by hitting Yellow, Blue/Black, and finishing on Green.

There was much more elevation there then I would have imagined, and the trail surface was an interesting mix of spots of soft sugar sand to hard pack and rocks.

Unfortunately for me, my legs were not playing nice after sitting in the car for so long, so climbing was more than a chore for me.  As Zac waited for my to catch up on the Yellow he found a friend.

It was the first porcupine he had ever seen so he was pretty psyched.

It was great riding with Zac as he was super positive and kept me going when I was feeling like my legs were done.  I think it was unanimous, we both enjoyed the Blue/Black trail the most as it was their more "technical" trail.

After our ride we enjoyed some locally caught whitefish burritos before driving on to our hotel for the night.  It was a fancy place - our bikes got to enjoy the porn tub.

After we got settled in we headed up to Copper Harbor to check out the drive time and meet up with the other Queen City folk way up north - Danger and Jim.  They had an adventure on their own and had made plenty of friends already.  We hung out for a bit before heading back to the hotel for the night....  we left before the police showed up.

The next day we "raced" and it was good.  But I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's on!

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

So I pre-posted this before I left... so hopefully everything is going to plan and we are still alive and well.  We will just go with that...

Anyway, tomorrow we'll be racing/riding out at Copper Harbor for SSUSA.  If you haven't already checked out a video of their trails... here is one to wet your appetite.  It seems they made some last minute changes to the course on Wednesday... reversing a lot of trails... making it sound like much climbing.  Whatever, it will be fun!

So here is just a little of what we'll probably be hitting, enjoy the video, I will enjoy the actual trails tomorrow.  Go get your bike on yourself!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Alright, it's 6:00 AM... that means I am picking up Zach and we are headed north... for about 13 hours.  Cranking out a big day on the road today so that we can break up the day tomorrow with a ride before getting up to the hotel.

Today I will leave you with a video from where we will be riding on Friday... Marquette South Trails.  Looks like w eight be having a bit of fun.

After our ride we push on to the hotel - couldn't get a refund after hearing Danger and Tonyan had us covered... but we might be able to get up with them anyway if we get up there early enough.  They are having their own adventure - shipped their bikes, flew up to Chicago and hopped a small plane up to Houghton - from there they ride to Copper Harbor!!  I'm sure they are having a blast. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Are you ready for this?

You know if you read the title this song probably popped in your head... so here you go!

But, the more appropriate questions is am I ready for this?

SSUSA is only a few days away, so I am hitting the road tomorrow morning.  Yes, the road.  1200 miles and 19 hours.  And on Sunday we'll turn around and do the whole thing over again... in one day.  Hey, did you catch that I said "we" there?  Originally a bunch of people were going.  Then it was me in the pterodactyl all alone.  Then Dicky got tipsy and really excited about it and was in.  Then he wasn't.  Then, just a few days ago another local Faster Muastache-er jumped on board.  Now Zac and myself will tackle this beast of a trip.  Here is the itinerary as it stands.

Thursday morning we bogey the heck out of Charlotte and head north, for about 13 hours and some change (which should get us to Mackinaw Michigan) to a sweet free camping spot I found on the internerds.  Legit.  There is a whole site for finding free camping!!  Some of it is for our RV friends, but some works for us mortals with tents and whatnot.  Check it out.  The site gets a little wonky sometimes, but it's finding free stuff, so relax already!

The next morning we'll get up, head over the bridge and drive a little over 3 hours to Marquette where we will hit up the South Marquette Trails.  From there we only have 2 hours and 45ish minutes to Copper Harbor!!  Unfortunately... we don't get to go straight to Copper Harbor.  You see, it's a tiny little town and there are no places left to stay... camping sites, motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts (well, I wasn't getting that fancy) are all booked.  So the closest open place was a hotel in Calumet Michigan - 34 miles south of Copper Harbor.  Not too bad - the map says it will take anywhere from 45-60 minutes to drive up in the morning for the race.  There wasn't much in the way of forests (at least on the map) for covert camping closer to the race, but it's all good.  

Saturday we race (starts at 10) and then the festivities ensue.  I'm really not feeling the long haul on Sunday, so our plan is to enjoy ourselves but not go too crazy on Saturday (we shall see...) and head out of town Saturday evening heading towards home about 2.5 hours to another freeish (maybe a $5 donation) camping site.  I figure 2.5 hours isn't solo bad of a drive Saturday evening (if we are in shape to do it) and it will make some - even if it's small - impact on the drive back Sunday.

Monday morning, bright and early, it's back to work for me.  Teacher's workday.  If all hell breaks lose and something happens that we don't make it through Sunday back home it's "ok."  I could take the day if I need it.  But I would rather not as we have a new counselor starting this year and I'd like to be there to help her get settled... while I fall asleep at my desk.

Oh, and then last night TheMutt texts me... meeting at the Kickstand tonight... trivia, shenanigans, and beers.... exactly what I don't need tonight.  Apparently Niner Mike is bringing his little kiddos so he promises an "early night."  I'm not exactly sure if that's possible, but we will see.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Let's catch up

So during my blogging hiatus I didn't get in to as many biking adventures as I had hoped to.  Makes sense really.

But, to catch you up to speed we'll have a bit of show and tell.

I got some cool news from - I was chosen to be part of their Trail Team!!  They sent me a sweet package of all things singletracks (t-shirt, stickers, pen, and 3 premium memberships) - I may do some sort of giveaway in the future here, so keep an eye out for that. helped me get back into biking.  As a resource it helped me find trails local to me, and even allowed me to share trails that I knew of with others.  Having trails listed by users, with photos, maps, and actual user ratings of the trails is so vital to finding the next great trail.  It's super handy especially when you are visiting a new area - it can help you determine which trails are a must ride, and which you might want to skip if time is short.  Also, the forum over there is great!  It's filled with helpful people having pretty civil conversations - we all know how biking forums can quickly get out of hand on some sites ; )  Anyway, singletracks picked myself and 25 other individuals from around the country and the world to help continue the singletracks mission.  

Then my boy D-Wayne sent me a little something something in the mail.

The first is completely true, the second... am I there yet?

Sweet sketch on the back of the envelope - I think that would make a sweet jersey, don't you?


And of course, this picture is blurry - but it was the reason for the delivery
I picked up some Glow Worm stickers from Dwayne, and he showered me with glorious extras.  The sticker is amazing!!  Not only looks kickass, but that thing is legit.  Won't have to worry about it getting beat up or peeling prematurely.

Then it was time to replace some equipment that needed replacing.  GLOVES!!  I finally got a new pair of gloves.  

I haven't tested them out yet, but they fit great in the store and feel like a pretty good replacement.  My only concern is they don't seem to be as vented as my last pair... so we'll see how hot they are once I start tearing up the trails again.  I guess SSUSA will be their first big test.

Yeah, I'm still going... that drive is not going to be fun.  But hopefully the riding will make up for it... if riding can make up for 40 hours of driving in a very small window.

I picked up some new riding glasses.  My mountain bike glasses were beat all to hell, it was time for an upgrade so I grabbed a pair of Jawbones on mad sale... Annie helped me with the color scheme - they match my shoes, ha ha.

Just yesterday the I got a new jersey in the mail.  I picked it up from Hill Killer, they have some cool stuff, check them out.  The jersey fits well and looks cool as hell.  A lot of extra detail in there that I wasn't expecting - like the Boston skyline on the rear pockets and the sleeve designs of a shamrock and the actual Boston city seal.  Neat.

And then my brother got me this cool t-shirt... cause you know, cycling and doping!

Live Rong
So there is some stuff I've acquired while not riding a whole bunch...

Like I mentioned, I'm headed up to SSUSA very shortly, but I guess I'll get into that tomorrow - before I'm on the road.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hi there

I guess I'm back.

So my hiatus was longer than predicted, but it was for a good reason.  The week before I was to start my Appalachian adventure we found out that Maggie's lungs were riddled with cancer.  Possibly the worst news I've ever received.  Ever.

I acquired Maggie one day as my girlfriend (at the time) and I were headed to the Starbucks in Athens Georgia.  Outside the Starbucks was a couple with a box of 8 week old puppies.  Apparently their two dogs had unknowingly gotten together and they had a litter on their hands that they were not ready to take care of.  Being in school and living in an apartment I was in no way ready for a puppy... but we all know how that goes... I ended up leaving with the chillest pure black puppy they had (the father was a black lab and the mother was a white boxer).

Chill would not be the first word that would come to anyone's mind who had met Maggie.  She wasn't super hyper, but she was very friendly and was ALWAYS looking to play ball.  If you showed her that you were able to throw a ball, you were her new best friend.  Once Maggie start chasing a ball, there was no off switch.

When she was a puppy I was often apologizing to the other dog park goers for the fact that Maggie was beating all the other dogs to their balls.  Her determination can be summed up in the instance where Maggie swam across the pond with 2 balls in her mouth pushing a third that she couldn't quite fit in her mouth.  She was nuts!!

Maggie would never stop.  Never.  One time I was throwing the tennis ball and another dog wanted to play... not with the ball, but with Maggie.  Maggie had no interest in the other dog as she was focus on chasing the ball, so this other dog barreled into Maggie.  There was a yelp, which I assumed was from the other dog because it appeared Maggie had kicked it in the head with her rear leg as she kept on after the ball.  As she turned, ball in mouth, I saw a bright red squared appear over her left shoulder (Maggie was completely jet back).  I called her to me, but at this time she was still noncompliant with completely returning a ball.  But even at a distance I could tell that she had a gash on her side.  Maggie, however, hadn't slowed or shown any sign of injury.  She was ready to go for another toss.    The owner of the other dog came over and apologized; the other dog had a choke collar on and when it collided with Maggie the sharp side turned out and slice Maggie open. The owner offered to pay for damages... but I was more concerned with getting Maggie back to the car so I could take her to the vet since she didn't seem to recognize that she was injured.  I had to play a game of ball with her to get her moving back toward the car so I could get her to the hospital.

Maggie has even torn her ACL (probably both) while playing.  She has come up sore, and even limping - but continued to want to play.  We had to take her to the vet to get her repaired as she would never complain - instead she would rather run on three legs to retrieve her tennis ball.

Those who have met her would also say that she was super expressive.

Maggie knew well over 70 words (wether commands or names of her toys, and was quick to respond to either).  Her favorite was "Baby Parties" which never happened, but seemed to be as intriguing to her as it was to us.  Her expressiveness even won over even those who weren't fans of dogs.

She was able to pass on some great traits to her little "sister" Scout - such as watching for the mailman.

And as tough as it is to lose such an amazing dog, I worry about Scout.  When Annie came in to the picture Maggie wasn't super thrilled.  She would always find her way in between use and muscle Annie out of the way in the beginning.  Soon, things turned around and Maggie accepted Annie.

Even if it was just as a pillow ; )

And then came Scout.  Luckily there were zero issues there.  Maggie quickly took to Scout, even nosing her up onto the couch when Scout couldn't quite make it there her herself.  They were best friends forever.

Maggie has been with me from Athens, GA - South Windsor, CT - Boston, MA - Charlotte, NC.  From single to married.  From dumbass to... well...

I don't know that I've ever known a dog like Maggie.  I don't know that I ever will.  But I am so honored that I had her with me for the time I did.  It's weird, but she made me a better person.  It sucks so much to lose her.