Monday, April 30, 2007

Tennessee Dirt Sweat & Gears 12 Hour report or Act Naturally

Well I hope you come and see me in the movies
Then I know that you will plainly see
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time
And all I gotta do is act naturally

Those lyrics to the Beatles song seem appropriate for this past weekend's race in Tennessee and I'll explain why later. I went down with the plan to ride for fun and have a good time with the other team members, six of us in total. I didn't plan on being competitive after racing the 100 miler last weekend.

We arrived at the race site on Friday afternoon to find a lot of pits already set up but we managed a good one across from the Dirt Rag crew and with some of the top pros a few tents away from us on either side. We took an easy prelap, well as easy as you can with 1,200 feet of climbing in10.5 miles. The course is fairly new but was really fun, lots of singletrack, fast downhills and some killer uphills. Also lots of jagged rock in places that would come into play in the race the next day. I'm glad it was dry, the trail would have been difficult in the wet.

Back at the race site they had a vendor area with local merchants, food concessions, and some national sponsor tents . In the evening some of the top pros held a meet and greet and we talked with Tinker and had a team picture taken with him. Tinker is sponsored by Cannondale, our primary team sponsor as well. One of our team members used to race with Tinker on a BMX team a long time ago.

While the pros were signing autographs Robin and I started talking to someone who does reports for a Tennessee public TV program, Tennessee's Wild Side. We explained a little about the sport and what would happen in the race and then he asked if we would mind being interviewed for their show. Robin and I each had a chance to talk while the camera was rolling. They wanted to get some on course video footage but by this time the light was fading so I volunteered to start the race with the camera on the bike.

The next morning we took some footage with the camera pointed in different positions prior to the start. The start itself was a running start, you had to run to where the bike was and then take off. When the gun went off I was in about the top 1/3 to the bike but had to wait for the camera man to help me with the recorder waist pack and make sure the tape was rolling. I ended up dead last out of the start area.

I put it into XC race mode and hustled to try and catch up so that other riders would be in the footage and not just an empty trail. I started passing people as well as my HR reached it highest point it has been all year, not exactly the usual endurance pace I have been running. I was wired for sound and they promised to edit anything I said that might not be acceptable on the air. I think I was polite, besides it's hard to say much when you are huffing and puffing besides "on your right", or "when you get a chance".

I stopped shortly before the end of the lap to give back the camera and recorder. I saw the camera man in the wood later shooting additional footage. The show is supposed to air in a few months and they will send a DVD of it to us.

I was pretty well cooked after the first lap and decided to call it a day after only 3.5 hours. I have a whole season ahead of me and didn't want to push to the point of physical exhaustion for this particular race.

The race took its toll on a lot of racers and bikes with flats being the number one problem. Even Tinker had two flats on the first lap but still managed a third place in the pro division.

I can't say enough about the race venue and hospitality of the people in the area. The town really supported the race; the mayor was selling clothing items including the shirt showing at the top of the page. She was delighted to have everyone in town.

I think this may have been the first race where I left weighing more than when I arrived. The race entry fee got us dinner Friday night, pancake breakfast race morning (I didn't partake) and dinner after the race. We had a chance to sample a lot of southern cuisine since the post race dinner was excellent pulled pork and we bought a Cajun sampler for lunch which contained red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, and jambalaya. Later in the afternoon we sampled homemade fried pies.

The awards after saw our team member Shirlee Finch get second place for solo amateur women. The amount of prize drawings they had was amazing including 7 bikes and frames, a Fox fork and a complete SRAM gruppo. None of us won anything big but scored some smaller items that were tossed to the crowd.

We had a good time and I would recommend the race to anyone for next year. We are talking about doing it again and maybe extending our time to take in some of the other trails in the TN/GA area.

Check out some other pictures and video of the pit area.

Next up on the race calendar is Fort Custer XC on May 6th.

Tinker with some of the team

Listening to the band

The had trial demos during the day

This helicopter showed off landing a few times

Interesting sculpture at the entrance to the trail

Tinker getting ready to start another lap

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tennessee bound again

I have just about finished getting everything packed again for another trip to Tennessee this weekend. it seems like I just got unpacked. This time it is a 12 hour race which means doing laps. That also means a support crew and the ability to stop each time around. I may be doing a lot of stopping this race.

My legs felt OK after the race last weekend and riding on Monday. Yesterday they felt pretty dead and I didn't ride today and won't tomorrow either since I am leaving after work. My plan is to just take it easy and have fun. The have a lot of give aways at this race so maybe some of us will come home with some.

Hopefully the rain won't come in but they are calling for some on the day of the race. Since thins race doesn't mean much I don't plan on riding in mud. No sense messing up my bike and replacing parts so early in the year.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cohutta 100

Just got back from the trip to Tennessee for the Cohutta 100. I managed to finish 2nd in the Master's class. The race had a lot of climbing and some sweet singletrack at the beginning and the end. I wish I wasn't so tired for the last section, it would have been a lot more fun.

The fireroad climbs seemed to go on forever but you were rewarded with some super fast decents. The scary parts weren't so much from the downhills themselves but that the roads were open to traffic and there seemed to be quite a few cars and trucks on them. You had to be careful rounding corners when you couldn't see what was coming. The best lines were usually on the inside of the corners where they were banked.

The race started and ended at the Ocoee White Water Center, site of the 1996 Olympic whitewater competition. There are over 30 miles of marked singletrack trails plus the options of hundreds of miles of fire roads to connect other trails. We all agreed that we would like to come back and ride the trails for fun. Make a week out of it and do some whitewater rafting as well.

My travelling companions were Shari and Robin Scurr and Shirlee Finch, all Cannondale Midwest team members. We had a great time travelling together and were certainly never bored. Robin and Shirlee both raced as well, Robin did almost half the course on his singlespeed before dropping out, the gearing on his bike was a little tough for the amount of climbing required. I don't think I would have gotten that far on a SS, hats off to anyone using only one gear. Shirlee finished with the usual smile on her face. I don't know if anything fazes her.

Next week the four of us plus two more team members head back to Tennessee south of Nashville for a 12 hour race. I'm just doing this one for fun, no serious competition hopes on the line.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On to Tennessee

Tomorrow I leave for Tennessee along with three of my team mates to compete in the Cohutta 100. This will be my first race of the year but many of the competition have been already racing. I haven't had a lot of training time lately so I'm not sure what to expect.

Next weekend several of us will be back down in Tennessee for a 12 hour race. What a way to start the season. Usually the first race of the year is a time trial that is under an hour long.

The weather will be good and the company a lot of fun. So no matter what happens in the race the trip will still be a good time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wedding Part 2

Yesterday I posted some pictures, here are some of the details. The wedding was in Spokane, Washington at Mount St. Michaels, the church/school where Jason taught a few years ago. The facility was originally a Jesuit center that in addition to teaching, also helped supply Gonzaga University which is in Spokane.

The wedding was small, especially since most of the guests had to come in from all over the country. We were fortunate so many were able to do so and make it special for Emily and Jason. While Sandy and I struggled with our emotions at times during the events of the weekend it was harder a few years ago when we moved Jason to Spokane.

The rehearsal dinner was in a restored mansion that is also a bed and breakfast. The female side of the bridal party had all the rooms reserved so we basically had the whole place to ourselves. The same caterer did both the rehearsal and the reception and the food was excellent.

The reception was at a local winery. It started in the cliff house overlooking the valley before moving to the tasting room. A DJ kept things moving as nearly everyone made it onto the dance floor at some point during the evening.

Jason and Emily are honeymooning in Mexico at a resort called Verana. It looks to be pretty secluded.

We are happy to have Emily come into our family and wish both of them the very best of everything.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Wedding!

It' official. Jason and Emily were married this past Saturday in Spokane. More to follow later. Additional pictures here

Monday, April 09, 2007


Since we didn't head over to the west side of the state today I was able to get some other things done but rode later in the day. Despite my fears of muddy roads they were in pretty good shape.

My legs felt a lot better, maybe it was all the Easter candy. I could still feel a little muscle soreness in the one quad but it was better than before. I was able to get in a few short sprints and the legs and HR seemed to respond well. I will still need to be careful to not overdo it in the next two weeks.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

There is something wrong when there is more snow at Easter than there is at Christmas. The weather has put a damper on my training. I find it hard to get motivated to ride when the wind chill is 12 degrees.

I rode outside Friday and Saturday but not today. Some of us were planning on riding on the west side of the state on Monday but we cancelled the trip. We could have ridden but it wouldn't have been much fun in 39 degree temps with snow.

The lack of riding time on my recently built 29'er is causing me some concern with the Cohutta 100 only two weeks away. it seems to feel about right but I had hoped to put some longer rides in to make sure I have the bike set up the way I like it. Plus I want to get the spokes and rims some mileage on them in case they need some tweaking. I've heard that a lighter version of the rims I am using require some readjusting after some time on them. Maybe these won't but I want to make sure.

The other thing that is bothering me a little is a deep pull or something in the left quad. I may have strained something a few weeks ago when doing two back to back heavy strength days. So I am trying to take it easy and add extra massage and muscle stimulation along with Hammer Nutrition Tissue Rejuvenator. Hopefully the legs respond in time for the race.

Here are some pictures of the recently built Cannondale Caffeine F29.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The weather matched the way I felt

I pretty much finished building the Cannondale F29 late Friday night. I was trying to get it done in time to go on a longer ride Saturday morning but I could tell as I was working on the bike that I was starting to come down with something. The throat was getting scratchy and eyes started to get that itchy feeling. I was hoping it was just that I was tired.

I got up early the next morning not feeling 100% but decided to meet the group anyway. About a half hour later I headed for home, knowing that it was the prudent thing to do.
The weather was cloudy and spitting rain anyway. I spent most of the day lounging around the house or sleeping.

Today I didn't feel much better and didn't ride either. The sun came out for a while so we took the dogs for a walk.

That is a total of one hour of riding in the last four days. Maybe I needed the rest but now I have some catching up to do. After Tuesday the temperatures are falling again but I have a few days off on either side of Easter and plan on riding regardless.