Monday, July 27, 2009

RCP #1 (Random commuter post)

Ever wonder what it's like to live out west, where evergreen forests predominate the woods? Now you can! Just plant a plastic tree in your front yard and don't even water it. The leaves will probably stay for years before they photo degrade, and you can always spray paint the "chlorophyll A" back on. Best of all if you decide it's a deciduous year, just apply some red, orange, and yellow highlights. No need to water!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not my Day...

This is what I woke up to this morning....

I generally am not one to quit I would soon rather run the rest of a race barefoot in the mud than DNF, however today was the exception at the Haw Ridge XC race. We arrived in the am and everything was fine minus a few sprinkles. Then right before we started all hell broke loose and images of DSG and thoughts of "what the hell am I doing?" started going through my head. I went with my geared bike since I decided I wouldn't be able to compete on the single speed and the mud actually wasn't too bad.

Little mud but nothing too bad.

The race went off and immediately I was spit out the back of a small but elite pack. Of all the crazies that showed up I was the slowest to start. I passed on guy after we started a short climb in the woods and it a bit before I could see the next group of two. The roots were very slick and after watching Caleb eat a mouthful of dirt on a large root on East shore I decided that one would be cross practice with a dismount each lap. After the first climb up ridge I was able to pull up to Caleb and Begalski and rode with them till I was able to slip by on a very steep pitch on rainbow where some dabbing happen up front. After I got past them I decided I wasn't going to gain anything on the descents so I pushed it as hard as possible on the hills.

After the first lap I felt I had a decent gap and I started to settle into race pace. As I rode on a new section of roller coaster I felt my ride get very plush. I looked down and knew I had pinch flatted so I punched it as long as I could till I felt a root make contact with my rim. Muddy hands and anaerobic head made the change difficult and I fumbled with the valve screw I stupidly left in the tube. As I was finishing up about 3-4min later Caleb and another guy came blazing by and I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me. I finally got the wheel mounted and my trash cleaned up and back into my pack and put out a solid enough effort to catch the guy chasing Caleb before we got back on middle road. Everything was going well.

As I entered East shore again I dropped down to the flat section before the ridge climb. I had seen what I thought was Caleb going up the ridge and I was going to blow a gasket on the climb to try to make the catch. Pffffffffffffffff! was all I heard. I had no other tubes and upon closer inspection I found the bottom of a broken bud light bottle on the side of the trail had seriously assaulted my sidewall. I gave it a good chuck into the Clinch to forever rest at the bottom of the radioactive sludge with everything else. In a few million years when aliens come they might find it. Anyways I walked out and even though it was a bummer to be done I had lots of fun in the rain. After a good wash and quick cleaning out of the headset and repacking it with grease, the bike seems to have fared well minus the rear tire. Anyways hats off to the great Caleeeb for enduring the race of attrition to assert his XC dominance. I knew those ride across the country legs would be strong. Now to find some new tires....

Bruised but not broken...

The offending new orifice in my rear tire...Courtesy of Anheiser-Busch .

At least I didn't do this....

Friday, July 24, 2009

"chain chain"

Can you tell which one just got done crying?

This past weekend the twins came up to visit and we had a mini celebration for Abby’s birthday within the confines of the family, since they wouldn’t be here for the actual day. She has to wait for my presents. We went for a train ride with the twins Saturday afternoon that took us out to the old Asbury Quarry, where marble was mined and used for the Lincoln memorial among many other famous landmarks.

Sunday Abby and I went for a morning ride at Haw Ridge and really enjoyed taking advantage of the crisp cool weather. We came back and had a nice birthday celebration with a huge Mexican meal and some really good cheesecake following. Abby’s parents found her an old Western Flyer tandem beach Cruiser at a yard sale that is in excellent condition. We took it out in the afternoon on a test spin down to Anchor Park and along Turkey creek getting lots of looks and smiles. The thing is huge but we’ve somehow been able to make room for it in our little house. It will be a great addition for social rides in the near future.

Trains are called "chain chains" by the twins and they were very excited to see them and ride this one.

Bridge over the south fork of the Holston River. (Osprey nest on top)

State of the art twin retention devices were deployed to contain the collateral slobbering.

Nice views of the river and perfect weather to enjoy them.

The quarry is quite large. 50 foot ladder on wall if you look hard enough.

At the turn around the engineers treated everyone to a little drive by.

Looking down on the bridge on the way back. The Engineers gave us a smooth ride by keeping about 7-8 lbs of air pressure in the brake lines. This keeps the cars from springing together and bouncing during slow acceleration and decelerations.

Red caboose against green fields is a good contrast. You can rent to Caboose for about 200 bucks for private parties. If you have enough it's cheaper than regular fares.

On Sunday among other things Abby's parents brought an old watermelon for the girls who immediately commenced gutting it like lions at a kill.

Until a larger giggly predator came in for a look.

We got lots of flowers out front now...too bad we can't eat them.

The awesome find courtesy of Abby's parents.

Some of the kids enjoying the new bike a little too much.


Friday, July 17, 2009

July 4th- now recap

July 4th weekend was a blur. We woke early and headed to the Smokies to sneak in what we thought might be a private ride through cades. Wrong. Cades cove busiest time of year happens to be July 4th and after we finally got parked in overflow parking in the fields of the valley a ranger told us they had 870 counted rider last year between 8-10am and said there were more later and earlier. Anyways we still braved the crowds and got ahead of the cars on our loop. Saw the usual Cade’s wildlife (turkey, deer, bears) and some DFR’s (dumb freckin rednecks). One in particular was chasing a bear with a point and shoot camera through the woods.

For the first time ever I stopped and checked out the gris mill and it was actually pretty neat. We saw lots of reptiles and amphibians there and ate blackberries until our bowels threatened to rebel. Followed by a picnic lunch and ice cream we headed back to K-town for the evening’s events.

We ate the happy hour at a deserted Nama and then headed for the symphony and fireworks. Oddly enough in the field behind the port-O-Jahns, there was a nice patch of grass open upwind and with an unobstructed stadium view of the works. I messed around with camera settings and got a few decent shots. Hopefully I’ll be able to translate this into some good shots for Boom’s Day later this year.

Sunday we ate dinner with the Tuckers at their house and were treated to an afternoon thundershower, grandparental (courtesy of Toots and Grandpa Knoll) stories, and a gentle rain, completing a packed and fun filled weekend.

Little did we know we would be the turkeys thinking it would be deserted in the cove.

Nice views that were relatively smog free.

A doe a deer...a female deer.

Salamander Rescue courtesy of Derek back to the stream bed.

Water powa!

The lock allowing water to flow to the wheel.

The wheel.

55x11 doesn't have anything on these gears.

This one's for you mom. Black snakes eat copperheads and mice and are good to have around.

Berry good deserts.

Flowers in Market square.

The moon provided pre fireworks illumination in fantastic fashion.

Lots of Fireworks pictures.....

Finale. Pictures don't do the bass levels justice.

Neat guttering device at Abby's parents.

Water flows from the gutter and then down all those segments, spilling a surprisingly small amount of water even in heavy rain.

A little walk at Concord and doing our part with some trail work on the local ivy growth.

Big South Fork Race

Home sweet home.

This past weekend Abby and I headed up to Big South Fork for my first mtb race of the year and a race Abby could finally ride in without threat of destroying herself or her bike. We met Maria and Amanda and camped out in the Bandy creek campground, which was very pimped out with the best in taxpayer dollars.
Both Abby and Boogy like sleeping in...

Abby’s race- Abby won the sport women with a small but talented field. We both knew Rachel was going to be fast on her newly decked pink single stallion, but with a little terrain luck on her side Abby was able to hold of off the Pink onslaught till the end. Abby had some mechanical difficulties of her own with a ruptured rear derailleur cable housing and a seat post that wouldn’t hold her seat straight (thanks to the anonymous " " dot quality). She rode with the seat tilted sharply up for the duration of the race and we will be removing and replacing the unmentioned defective designed post in short order and replacing it with something a little more stout.

Boogs sat on the road and side of the trail and gave us this look every time we came around.

Women racers are mean.

Fun in the woods.

And done.

My race- I was very nervous going into this race, but was comforted by the reports that the BSF course was not very technical. For the most part this was true with the exception of a few rock drop offs. What this race lacked in technicality it made up for in scary speed. The first miles of gravel road were all Big ring and a “gentlemen’s” start was not possible with Mr. Casteel (aka Mr. Excitement) attacking off the front like the line was 50 yards up the road. This drove the field to chase relentlessly into the woods at a very high pace with everyone in their big rings.

About ½ mile down the trail at a creek crossing a rider went down in front of me and an octopus of bikes soon ensued. Somehow no one had any major injuries, as when it all happened we were all doing about 25 mph. After the smoke cleared I found myself sitting about 6th in the group and as the first lap progressed, already better than any aspirations I had for the day. A flurry of attacks and small dabs from competitors in front allowed me to move to the very front of the race…somewhere I have never been in expert so far. While it was a rush having a bunch of faster than you dudes breathing down your neck waiting for the slightest mistake, I welcomed the change of lead shortly after on a gravel road. Tanner Hurst, a very fast up and coming kid laid down an attack with another guy in a group of three we had going and they never looked back as they dusted me.

At this point I was into my second lap and my back was starting to hurt and feel a little weird. I backed off the pace a bit and just tried to settle in on a reasonably anaerobic and tolerably painful rhythm. A pro rider Jake Prater, rode up on me offered some words of encouragement and then went on to the front to win the race, as he had been caught up earlier in the race wreck. After a short shooting leg pain and numbness in my leg subsided with a drop in pace, I decided I was feeling better or my adrenaline was high enough to ignore the pain and either way I was going to be done afterwards.

My third lap felt much better and smoother, as my technical skills especially at such high speeds, have diminished with all the no brainer roadie steering. The course was getting dialed in and I was beginning to really feel out the corners a lot better. I caught sight of one of the guys in front of me several times but didn’t have enough gas to close the gap before the end of the race. Meanwhile I was fighting my own battle with a Krystal guy behind me, who would keep walking up on me after the long technical descents where I had to ease off to preserve my back. Oddly enough the climbing on the day felt the best and seemed like it was where I was able to gain the most ground on my opponents. I rolled across the line utterly cooked on my limited expert experience in 4th place, which I felt was pretty awesome, considering the field strength for the day was stout and I’m coming off no riding mtb with a gimp back. After the beating my body took I’m seriously considering sitting out the Haw Ridge race as a volunteer and letting my back make the full recovery before getting back into the mtb race scene. One thing’s for sure, there’s no faking fitness or technical ability in mtb. Unlike road racing wheel sucking is just not really ever an option.Finally back to my roots…and the dirt.