More Photo Rambling

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That was last Friday- the final round of anesthetic injections to my left hamstring.

Also on the list of needle-related appointments was a trip by scooter out to Chiropractic Memphis for acupuncture. One of my former students is working at Affinity Acupuncture in Nashville and comes to Memphis every two weeks for a Friday/Saturday. It’s the only thing I’ve found that makes my lower back completely pain-free. I’d highly recommend him if you’re in either Memphis or Nashville (comment here or though facebook or email me for his contact info).

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I can’t wait until it’s scooter time, all the time.

The doc gave me the go-ahead on the previous visit to train as normal following the injections, so, on Saturday, I took to the road for a spirited group ride. Turns out, when the shortest/most intense intervals you’ve done in the past 4 months are 10 minutes long, the attacks/chases/etc. of such a ride create quite the pain cave.I spent the remainder of the afternoon resisting the urge to eat everything in sight.

It was nice, so I cooked outside:

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Here’s a random dog photo. Penny’s tail is always blurry unless she’s sleeping.

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Sunday was a much-needed recovery day, then Monday was an interval day. I started with some greenline/trail to warm up, then went to my usual spot in the middle of Shelby Farms where there’s a long, flat, and lightly-trafficked road that’s great for that sort of thing.

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That’s been laying on the unfinished part of the greenline for a couple of weeks now.

Today, I’ve taken the chance of another recovery day to do my usual errands, which included a trip out to Bike World/Nimblewear USA headquarters to finally put in the order for my 2014 Brickhouse Racing kit! Looks like it should get here in about 3 weeks. Looks-wise it’s mostly the same as last year. I’ve basically just changed some sponsor logos around and gone with an upgraded fabric/cut for the jersey & bibs.

I know my posts have been a little on the light side as of late. Trust me, I’m looking forward to some excitement just as much as you are. Hopefully the last few “serious” workouts prior to Warrior Creek go smoothly (the high notes- a 5 hour MTB ride tomorrow, another group ride Saturday, and one last grunt of 2x20min intervals on Tuesday) and I arrive in North Carolina ready to smash some pedals… or at least make a good story in the process of trying.

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Progress

Recovery is going pretty OK with my injected leg. The cortisone-affected area feels prettymuch normal, and the part of my hamstring that received what looks like 4 or 5 sticks (it’s hard to crane my head around and count in a mirror) is just looking/feeling bruised now. I was able to get out for a good ride and met up with some friends along the way. About 3/4s of the way through, this happened:

Those guys had no clue how to get their car unstuck… guess they don’t teach the art of rockin’ it in the academy! Along those lines, you’ll notice at the very end of the video the lack of a “thank you” from captain grouch in the driver’s seat… he was telling us to get our bikes out of the way because he wanted to drive the car on the high spot where we were parked. Apparently, he was trying to show his partner a “short cut” under the nearby bridge over the trailhead.

I’m very thankful that recovery has been easy enough that I can stay pretty active. I’m incredibly determined this year to keep my race weight a solid 140 pounds and under. I’ve been hanging out in the 142-144 area. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re already eating a very clean, filling diet that’s maintaining your weight, it’s basically an act of sheer willpower and hunger to lose anything. I did, however, decide that I’d reward myself once I arrived at said weight… not with some stupid pile of junk food or something like that. I designed a pair of NikeID shoes instead…

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I ordered them already, but I’ve imposed a 140 pound weight limit on them.

My #1 advice for losing anyone looking to lose weight? Control your appetite.
First off, low fat diets are totally bogus. The archaic recommendation to not eat fat is based off of old school misinformation and not off of any real science or human research. Fat and fiber make you feel full. Go ahead and eat bacon (the nitrate-free type), red meat, whatever… just watch portion size. While the fat in your food isn’t actually clogging your arteries, it is high in calories, so when you see that a serving of steak is 4oz, you’re in for a nasty wake-up call when you put that juicy ribeye on a scale. So, go for the full-fat versions of everything. While you’re at it, QUIT TAKING THE #@$*ING YOLKS OUT OF YOUR EGGS.
You’re going to get a lot more success by eliminating any sources of refined sugar (other than what you eat just before/during/after training). Eating something that’s mostly carbohydrates and little fiber/fat/protein is going to make your blood sugar rise quickly then fall below normal (I’m not going to take the time here to give you all of the physiology, but that’s the bare basics of it). Turns out, low blood sugar is a stimulus for hunger. Bonus tip: consumption of the artifical sweeteners in diet drinks will also result in low blood sugar and thus, hunger.

I’ve basically lived by that advice to successfully manage/maintain my weight (except after a long ride or bike race- I cut loose a little more then). I’ve also reduced alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 nights a week (because, let’s face it- Just Riding Along wouldn’t be the same if we were stone cold sober).

So, now that I eat mostly “good” food, I’m basically stuck with reducing the amount of food I eat. There’s no way around it, trick, or secret… I’m just hungry. It’s will power. It makes me angry at chocolate bars when I see them. However, I think of things like riding up hills, my love of looking muscle-y, custom Nike shoes, and find something distracting to do. It’s been working slow and steady, but I’m looking forward to adding in some extra training to keep things rolling in the downward direction.

Santos #3

I didn’t have an exact plan for my third and final day in Ocala, other than start the day with breakfast from the same place I’d been going to…

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The shop across the street from the trail (Greenway Bikes) has a Wednesday night group ride, and I’d brought my lights, so I was tentatively planning on that. However, once I looked at the weather forecast, I decided I’d better ride earlier since rain would be moving through later in the day. I ended up riding part of the loop I’d done on Monday with some deviations onto the “red” trails that I hadn’t ridden yet. This time, since I (sort of) knew where I was going, I did it with fewer stops along the way and started taking advantage of the general “carviness” of the trails. There’s one trail out there aptly named “Bunny,” which repeatedly dares you to lean your bike over until you feel like you’re about to drag a knee. As an added “I love Florida” bonus, I also saw a dude riding in tights, a windbreaker, and a balaclava (it was a colder-than-normal 55 degrees and cloudy).

There’s also this thing, just randomly placed along another one of the trails…

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I giggled my way though a few laps of it before heading back to the trailhead with time to spare to play around in the skills area…

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I managed to ride the super skinny one about half the time I tried it, and was even more successful at the other one… even doing it in the “backwards” direction that required a pop-up on to the raised end. Considering my general phobia of riding skinny, elevated things, I was pretty proud of myself. It was a great wrap-up to the many hours of training.

That afternoon, I packed the bikes and whatever I could into the Element to prepare for the afternoon rain and early morning departure. As predicted, it started pouring around 4:00. I stopped back by Greenway Bikes and bought a beer. I could get used to a shop like that…

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent lounging in the giant tent, listening to the rain.

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Later on, I went back to Chipotle for dinner, but not until after I’d found a huge liquor store and gone on a beer hunt for Ryan. Liquor store employees are really friendly when you walk through the door and immediately grab a shopping cart.

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The next day, I was up, packed, and out of the campground by 7:00am. I’ve decided that winter training in Florida is a great thing, and I’m definitely going back next time the weather turns foul in Memphis. Speaking of… I made it back to Memphis just in time for the weather to be nicer here. It seems as if winter is finally losing its grip on the city (though, there are a few cold days in the forecast next week). Hopefully, the worst is over.

Santos #2

Tuesday, my training schedule was split in half. After getting up and going to breakfast, I came back and went out for an easy-ish ride. I decided I’d go over to the Vortex/Freeride area of the trail system and ride the “black diamond” loop then gawk/take photos at all the crazy stuff I’d only dream of riding during a nightmare. It didn’t disappoint…

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I did giggle my way through these two:

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What you DON’T see, either in the photo or actually standing at the top of that first one is that right where the rocks are a little ways down the trail, there’s another really steep drop-off. I’m proud to say, though, I handled it without panic or feeling as if it were a “close call” of any sort. I liked the black diamond trail a lot… it was very reminiscent of some Arkansas rockiness.
Fun side story of the day- the Black Diamond/Freeride area has a “qualifier” obstacle at both the front and back entrances (defined by IMBA as a high-skill-level, low-consequence obstacle that demonstrates the difficulty of the upcoming trail or trail feature). I came in through the back, where the qualifier is a rock… I was like, “hell yeah! I love rocks!” And, I popped right over it. I rode the loop, took my photos, then was headed out the front entrance, when I arrived at its qualifier… a tall, skinny ramp/bridge. I got off and walked, garnering all sorts of weird looks from the 2-3 carloads of dudes in the parking lot. Whatevs… rocks > man-made stuff

Once I was back at the tent, I cleaned up, snacked, and kicked back for a little while to figure out where I’d go for the 20 minute intervals I was supposed to do that afternoon:

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The selfie was mandatory since it was warm enough for shorts and a tank top.

I wasn’t familiar with the roads in the area, and the ones I’d driven on were all super traffic-y. So, I decided I’d drive out to the westernmost point I’d reached the day before and ride the open doubletrack paths in that area. It ended up working well- there’s just enough up/down grade to force you to shift & chance cadence occasionally, so it was perfect for long intervals.

Once I was done, I drove back and repeated the previous night’s snack/cleanup/dinner at Chipotle routine. Why mess with a good thing, right?

Santos #1

Sorry for not posting about my trip right away, but getting back home from a good road trip is sort of like jumping on to a running treadmill.

I left town Sunday morning to start the 11ish hour drive down to Santos.

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It could be a little shorter if I were in super kickass get-someplace mode, but, I figured if I were going to be getting to the campground after dark, I might as well take an afternoon driving break in Tallahassee to visit the Whole Foods salad bar (road trip staple).

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The drive left me with lots of time to think about all the shit I’d left at home… like a pad to sleep on and a hydration pack. I ended up going to the Ocala Walmart on my way through town and picking up an air mattress. I didn’t get a pump because I had a floor pump. In case anyone is ever wondering, a floor pump isn’t really made for inflating an air mattress.

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Once I was settled (also, in case you were ever wondering, an 8-person dome tent is marvelous if you’re car-camping/living in it for a few days), I had a snack and went to sleep.

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The first night, I also realized I’d forgotten earplugs. The Santos campground is very nice with the exception of the nearby highway and train noise. I’d picked what was probably the best site, though. I’m not giving away the number, because it’s the one I’ll reserve any time I go back.

In the morning, I searched the internet for breakfast and found a place called First Watch. It appears to be a regional chain, but it was exactly the sort of food I wanted to fuel a day of riding- hearty eggs & whatnot without being greasy at all. I ended up eating there every morning…

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After breakfast, I needed to find a hydration pack. I went to a local shop and picked up a Camelbak Lobo that could eventually replace the clapped out Hydrapack that Ryan used. I’d done plenty of internet research ahead of time and decided that my ride plan was to try and get to the Gulf of Mexico via trails and road.

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The route shown in the map above is the IMBA-designated “Epic.” A large portion of it is marked with green OMBA stickers to help you find the way out and back. Like this:

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They aren’t on the entire trail, though, so there were a few stops along the way to figure out where to go and to take some photos of the gorgeous, moss-covered live oak trees, as well as the “landbridge” over Interstate 75.

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The map above doesn’t show it, but once you get to the Ross Prairie Trailhead/Hwy 200, there is a trail that continues on to the Pruitt Trailhead. I totally lucked out in finding it, though. I saw on the map that the Limerock road kept going west from 200, so I rode north up the shoulder of hwy200 looking for it. I missed it, but happened to catch a glimpse of some orange flagging and followed that into the woods to find singletrack that was marked with more orange flags. It was a little slow-going because it was a lot newer and less groomed than the trail I’d been riding. In some spots, if it weren’t for the orange flags, I probably would have lost it into the woods.

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At the end of that trail, I realized that I was out of time to continue heading west. I wanted to find the limerock road I’d been looking for earlier, but ended up on a different road further south. It still took me back east, but I ended up in some pretty sandy spots, and I had to duck some barbed wire to get back across Hwy 200 and back into the mapped trail system. Yay, Adventure!

The fun thing about the Epic ride is that on the way back, the trails seem all downhill (a relative term, because there aren’t very many hills there). The ride back is about half an hour faster than the ride out. Lucky for me, too, because I was cutting it close on daylight.

Six hours from when I started, I pulled back into camp with just enough light to see my post-ride snack… a kinda gross-looking, but super tasty mix of rice/blueberry/chocolate/egg bar, some peanut butter, and a little granola

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Later, I went to town to my permanent dinner spot for the week and tapped out before finishing a massive burrito…

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Road Trip Time!

First off, if you aren’t already a personal friend or a “liker” of  Brickhouse Racing on Facebook, you can use the link over on the right to go to my page. I’m trying to help Poolboy Matt find a home for a puppy that was dumped with her momma and littermates in the parking lot outside his workplace. There are photos and more info on the FB page, so check it out if you’re looking for a new friend.

Now, for the good news… I’m going to Florida next week!

Let me start by saying that yes, I realize that it’s probably colder where you are than it is in Memphis. I generally deal with it pretty well and refrain from whining throughout December and January. However, it’s been colder than usual, and it seems like I haven’t seen the sun since last week sometime. Monday pushed me off the deep end… it was 33 and raining all day. Pouring, buckets of rain… All. Day. Long. The roads are falling apart with all the water, so there’s no telling what the trails are going to look like. The sun hasn’t been out since then, and the high won’t be over freezing until Saturday…

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I need to be training to race 200 miles at the end of May, and I haven’t done over a 3.5 hour ride in longer than I can remember.

So, it’s time to GTFO for a mini-training camp at the Santos trails in Ocala, Florida. Exact details TBD… but I will say that I’m missing the next batch of ice and 33 degree rain that’s scheduled to come through town next week. Daytime highs in that part of Florida are slated to be in the 70’s.

I can deal with that. I plan on riding until I’m sunburnt.

 

“Firsts of 2014″ Week

Last week was a solid week of firsts of the new year…

-First “jersey and shorts only” ride in the 62 and sunny on Monday (followed closely by…)

-First cold-weather trainer intervals of 2014 on Wednesday

-First weekend of riding trails with intermittent freeze-thaw slimed-over corners (not sure if I was any better at it by the end of the weekend, but at least I got some practice!)

-First 15 hour training week of training of 2014

-First cute button-down shirt that wouldn’t fit because of the muscles I’ve grown in the last 2 months (I was equally stoked and disappointed- it was a white shirt covered in -OMG!- little hot pink bicycles)

-First nosebleed…

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(sustained via an inadvertent bonk during practice… not a nose ring-related incident as someone on FB suggested. It hurt a lot less than the time I face-planted into a tree)

-First of several physical therapy sessions to continue the search for a diagnosis of the sciatic nerve issues that are causing toe and leg pain during long rides. As I mentioned before, last week’s MRI showed no disc herniation (though it did reveal a degenerating L5/S1 disc, unrelated to the sciatic issues).
I went to a PT this week to treat a possible entrapment of the nerve within my hamstring. He found some of what he called “muscle banding” at the origin of the pain in my leg, and, before he attempts dry needling to release it, he wants me to try nerve gliding… essentially “flossing” the nerve through the muscle to break up anything that’s preventing the nerve from moving smoothly though the muscle while I ride. He said that if that’s part of what’s causing my issues that the nerve glide exercise could make it feel worse… which it did, so I’m hopeful that we’re narrowing it down.

Along with this somewhat-entertaining list, I also finalized my order of a custom ti hardtail frame from Cysco, ordered a drivetrain for it, and made plans for a little parts swapping between my full suspension and my Air9 Carbon Singlespeed that will eventually net in two complete bikes for sale (the Air9 RDO as it sits as well as the Singlespeed with various parts from the FS that I’m replacing to lighten it up a bit).

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That won’t happen until the Cysco is on its way here, though. If you’re looking for a medium Air9 RDO race-ready hardtail or a small, similarly pimped-out singlespeed, then keep an eye out here in the upcoming months.

This week is a little more of the same- it’s stupid-cold again to start the week, so I’m sure I’ll get more time on the trainer. Hopefully the weather holds out for the upcoming IMBA weekend at Syllamo.

Short Break from the Ordinary

My weekend activities outside of training were slightly more interesting than the usual “sit on the couch and recover” experience. Thursday at MMA class, the other girl that trains there asked if I was going to go to the V3 fights downtown on Saturday night. I wasn’t sure, because, honestly, I’m somewhat of a homebody, and being downtown for any other reason outside of a scenic bike ride is way off my radar for a multitude of reasons.

However, I later saw that the son of a close friend of mine who died unexpectedly back in the Spring of 2011, posted on Facebook that he’d be back in town (he lives in Florida now) to fight. I’ve known him since he was kind of a troubled teen, so it’s hard to express how proud I am to see him doing well for himself now with everything that he’s been through. I definitely wanted to go watch, and, in talking to Matt, found out that one of his co-workers could procure a couple of free tickets for excellent seats.

I couldn’t find any MMA-oriented people who could go, so I took Ryan along. Speaking of…

He dumped a bucket of sanitizer (from his homebrewing stuff) down Matt’s toilet earlier that afternoon. In the sanitizer was an airlock from a carboy… complete with rubber stopper (not pictured).

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When Matt returned home that afternoon, Ryan let him know what happened, but that despite the loss of the airlock, it “flushed fine.” However, Matt decided to further investigate by throwing a wad of toilet paper into the tank and flushing, which resulted in a near-overflow of the bowl. With some advice from a plumber friend of ours, they removed the toilet and retrieved the stuck airlock.

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After that “excitement,” we headed downtown. I enjoy watching MMA on TV, but seeing it live is incredibly fun. I can’t deny getting a little misty-eyed when I saw Tony get in the ring…

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Sunday was back to business as usual. I went on a MTB ride with Matt. Our original plan was to ride to the Stanky Creek trail and back, but, once we got there, the “winter shape” (lots of leaves hiding roots and greasy mud everywhere) of the trails turned out to be less than fun, so we poked around a little then headed back to finish the ride up on the Wolf River Trails (which are in excellent shape right now). It was pretty laid back since I’d beaten myself up in the comically blustery wind the day before (it was slightly unpredictable in direction and 25-30+ mph with occasional gusts).

I made it back in time to eat, grocery shop, then sit in the new couch/recliner with a mug of beer and watch football. Turbo took her last nap on the old couch, which was picked up by one of Matt’s friends as a donation to a church.

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She’ll now have to resort back to curling up in a ball on her dog bed.

 

A good weekend and a new plan

Now that I wrote a post saying that my legs are total junk, I had a couple of rides over the weekend that proved that maybe they’re only about 75% junk. Saturday, I headed out for some base miles- a relatively short ride of just under 3 hours, but I was successful in maintaining a steady wattage throughout the miles. My route started by tracking north with a sweet 15-20mph tailwind from the south, then looped back to face it down most of the way back. Some people might consider that torture, but I can’t help but get excited as I make the turn from north to east and pick up a nice “lean into it” crosswind for a few miles before turning straight south. Matt went with me and wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.

Sunday, we’d originally planned on trainer rides since a steady, all-day, rain-turning-to-ice was predicted to arrive somewhere around 4am. However, I awoke to find that the first batch of rain had missed us. So, I woke up Ryan and Matt and we hustled out to the trail to get in as much time as possible before the rain set in for the day. It was barely starting to sprinkle when we left the house, and we made it almost an hour into our ride before the bottom fell out. Luckily, at that point, we were able to bail off of the trail and hit the Memphis Greenline to get home. Matt was feeling frisky and went to plaid on the unfinished gravel section, which I think might have been a slight punishment for the previous day’s wind shenanigans.

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Changing gears a little… in “2014 Race Season” news, I’ve shifted my focus for race choices in May. My original intention was to go back to Trans-Sylvania to improve upon my finish from last year…a lofty goal, because last year, it was an outright perfect combination of both my best fitness and several strokes of luck that resulted in one stage win, the Overall Enduro win, and a 5th place spot in the Overall General Classification. Looking back, that was, both physically and mentally, the hardest race I’ve ever done.

This year, as I mentioned a few posts ago, Gu Energy is, once again, being a kickass sponsor. They’re supporting the 2014 edition of the  Dirty Kanzaa 200 race, and, rather than going back to TSE, I’ll take on DK200 as my next big challenge. It’s not only going to be a huge undertaking on its own, but it will also serve as a springboard to training for what stands to be another “hardest race ever,” the Vapor Trail 125. I know in the past I’ve sworn off 100 mile races, but these are more of the “epic” variety with a healthier dose of attrition mixed in to make them more exciting.

Admittedly, I’m becoming somewhat of a junkie for seeking out the next most “impossible” thing.

More Thanksgiving at Syllamo

With Ryan out of town at his Brother’s house for Thanksgiving, I wanted to hang around at the cabin for the rest of the weekend. Matt drove over to join me Friday morning. To pass the time before his arrival, I said my goodbyes to the relatives and headed out for a few more hours of trailwork. I’d asked around about the section of the Blue trail on the other side of Green Mtn road from where I’d been working, and no one seemed to know if it were in good shape or not. I knew at least one part of it had the cedar groves clearcut off of it, so it was possible that the trail through what was now a grave yard of cedar mulch and partially ground up cedar logs would be non-existent, much like the section of orange trail that received the same treatment.

Thankfully, it was mostly intact and follow-able. Also thankfully, someone had cut most of that section of trail with a line trimmer of some sort (amazing, because it’s several miles long). I hiked and chopped a few greenbriar patches that’d been missed, but generally didn’t have much work to do, and ended up walking back to the truck on Green Mtn road instead of the trail.

I arrived back at the cabin when Matt was still unloading the car. We ate leftover turkey sandwiches and went out for a ride on the orange trail. Oof… If your first ride back from a week off the bike is singlespeeding up the climbs and rocks at Syllamo, it’s gonna hurt a little. We generally took it easy, though, and stopped to pay a visit to Mariah Haney off of Old Hwy 5…

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My rock mojo was definitely off it’s game. Matt, who was riding rigid, felt the same way, though it didn’t stop him from doing his usual thing…

Since I’m not really “training” right now, we decided Saturday morning to go to downtown Mountain View for breakfast and Small Business Saturday shopping, then ride just after lunchtime. I bought a leather cowboy hat, and Matt did his usual thing (again)…

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That afternoon, we rode a lap of the Blue Trail, because I wanted to enjoy all the chopping and cutting I’d done the days before. Just a couple of miles from the car, a black lab came bounding out of the woods and joined us. He was sleek but still dopey, and seemed to be having a great time just hanging out in the woods doing dog stuff. We were then faced with a dilemma- we’d parked at the Highway 5 trailhead, which sits (as the name suggests) right off of Hwy 5. People drive like maniacs down that stretch of road, and the dog, who I’d immediately started calling “Buddy,” was wandering around the parking lot looking like he’d dart across the road at any time. So, we decided to try and find his owners by loading him up and taking him up Green Mountain Road, where there was at least one residence in addition to a large deer camp. Buddy knew the command “load up” and thoroughly enjoyed the trip…

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We first talked to John, the guy who lives almost at the bottom of Green Mountain road. It wasn’t his dog, but he graciously offered to take the dog and call around/place an ad in the paper once we’d confirmed that it didn’t belong to the deer hunters up the hill. As we were headed that way, a truckload of them was coming down the mountain, and, while they did confirm that Buddy was a “mighty fine looking dog,” it was not a dog that belonged to anyone up there. We turned back and dropped him off at John’s place, where he immediately started playing and wrestling around with John’s dog.

We’d later find out from the guys who were out riding earlier, that the dog had run with them for 16 miles, and that the owner had approached them at their camp early that evening (probably about the time we were dropping him off) asking if they’d seen him. The next day, she’d left a note at their camp that she’d found him, but didn’t say where. The dog’s name? Wait for it…..

BUDDY!

That night, we went to Tommy’s Famous Pizza. Definitely the best restaurant in Mountain View.

Sunday morning, we were going to avoid some of the trail leafy-ness by riding a little gravel out of Blanchard Springs. However, we got distracted by an old forest road, and started riding/hike-a-biking to see where it went (see note on the log in the bottom right corner).

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It took us to Highway 14, so we rode the pavement back into the park and explored some other roads/closed roads/former homesteads in the area. It ended up being a pretty laid back day, and, after a couple of hours, we returned to the cabin to do the laundry list of Gerald’s Cabin Chores before making the drive back to Memphis.

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Probably one of the more laid back weekends at Syllamo I’ve ever done. Though, it was highly enjoyable to lose the seriousness for a second and check out what else is around other than just the usual trails. I’m hoping for more of the same when Ryan and I go back weekend after this one (which is, coincidentally, the weekend we were going to go to Chattanooga for the TN State Championship CX Race). This break is taking knocking the edge off of my usual stress level, which is much more fun than vying for a state championship.