Creeping Spring

It seems like cool shit happens at a pace at which I can’t keep up with, blogging-wise.

Basically, outside of the shop hours, I’m riding either the back roads around Gilpin County, or I’m making the 30-45 minute drive to the lower altitude/not-snow-covered trails in the Golden area.

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Following the Sno-Ab snowstorm, the weather was nice again for a little while, then we had another small storm come through that dropped 3-4 inches of wet snow in the higher areas. Case in point- I went to yoga in Nederland, about 1000 feet lower in elevation than the bike shop, and the snow was melting immediately when I went in to class at 9:00 and was straight rain when I left class 1.5 hours later.

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Back up at the house, the snow had stayed steady.

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So, even though the weather seems to be slowly cranking over towards a Spring-like pattern, the trails up here are still a bit too snowy to ride. I went out on the road bike and showed Matt a fun pavement/gravel ride from the shop. He didn’t seem to embrace the thin mountain air in the same manner as I have.

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There’s another less road-bike friendly loop from the house that climbs towards Idaho Springs. I rode the short version early last week and hit the climbs pretty hard to see how I’ve improved since I first moved here. I’m doing about 15 watts better on average for the two significant climbs along the route. The snow was gorgeous, so I took a photo in the cemetery at the top of the long-ish dirt climb from Black Hawk up to Golden Gate Canyon Road.

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Thursday, Jon and I went out on a “let’s see how far this road goes until it’s covered in snow” exploratory ride. We actually made it all the way past where the snow was thickest and got back to some maintained roads. We tried to get to Idaho Springs from a long descent off the mountain, but the shoulder of I70 was closed for construction, and we ended up having to climb back up the 1800ft we’d just descended at 35-40mph. If this makes absolutely no sense, you can see the route/elevation profile here: https://www.strava.com/activities/295637310

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This backroads-wandering mule is my current spirit animal.

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Riding trails down the mountain is equally as fun as exploring and getting lost on backroads. I’ve met Matt (who lives in Lakewood now) a handful of times, and it seems we always end up riding the Apex Park trails. We mapped out one ride from his place to Lookout Mountain and back that took us up the Chimney Gulch trail and down the Apex trail.

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Along the way, he got too buck on too little air pressure and cracked his rear rim.

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That sucks pretty hard, though it did mean that he volunteered to play photographer since he couldn’t continue to get buck on his cracked rim.

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I met him and some of the other dudes from Wheat Ridge Cyclery Saturday evening for a “go hard, then stop for beer repeatedly” ride. It was short, and we were probably stopped for an equal amount of time as we were moving, but it was a good leg burner and downhill practice that netted me three downhill QOMs on Strava. It makes me even more excited to get the Mach 6 on order (happening this afternoon if everything goes according to plan).

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Sunday, I rode with Shane and Ky at Buffalo Creek (the same friends I rode Devils Backbone with not too long ago). The trail is tons of fun, and I’m lucky to have met some really cool people to hang out with.

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Currently, it’s cold and rainy (but not snowy!). However, warmer days are trying to creep in a little at a time. Indy enjoyed the brief period of sunny/62 on Saturday in his pen behind the shop.

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He’s also made friends with Ky’s little doggie, Agnes.

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He plays as much as a little old man can (he’s turning 15 in a handful of days) before passing out somewhere in or around his bed.

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Just a few more days and I’ll be back in Moab for my first out-West enduro! http://endurocupmtb.com/moab-may-9/

Nervousness abounds.

Old Phone Throwback

I was doing factory resets on a couple of old phones yesterday, and I found a few 2010-ish photos on one of them. So, in honor of the hokey internet tradition of “Throwback Thursday,” here’s my collection of random flip phone photos:

That time that Matt R. passed out and we drew on him with a dry-erase marker. We thought we were being super nice by using non-permanent ink.

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He’s a Doctor of Physical Therapy now. We’re all pretty proud.

Next, there’s Amanda Carey smoking a peace pipe (irony) after she won the Mohican 100. That’s the year that I blew up my drivetrain twice and DNF’d. I also cracked my Air 9 (scandium) frame… which led me into the awesome world of singlespeeding.

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Speaking of Singlespeeding, that summer, I went to Colorado for the first time. I raced Marathon Nationals (my first singlespeed race) and won a bronze medal, then raced the Breck 100 (first singlespeed 100) and was the only SS female to finish (but not the only one to start).

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The Breck pump track was good times.

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In between those two races, I raced my first (and only) Super D (won my age group and was 2nd overall) and met my future coach (dude on the far end of the chair) and got to giggle at Deejay blasting downhill on a Jet9 and ringing his bike bell at dudes in full DH kit on huge bikes.

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I fell in love with this…

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Going further back (I had that phone for a while)- My first time in Mountain View, AR. It was actually in June of 2009 (I told you this would be a random list). How I got there? I’d gone to Lake Sylvia to ride gravel. I accidentally poked a hole in the oil pan of my car. My parents happened to be in Arkansas looking at cabins, so they came and rescued me and my bike. I rode some gravel from the place where we stayed and was chased by many dogs.

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I found pics of Thor, the smartest/worst cat ever, when he was a baby:

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And, a reminder of one of my least-favorite mountain bike wrecks when I hit my face on a tree at Herb Parson’s lake.

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I’d taken the pictures trailside because I couldn’t figure out what was bleeding.

So, there’s my little trip through memory lane. Some of you who are newer readers may enjoy checking out the whole stories I linked to. I know I enjoyed them thoroughly.

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CX Omnium, Etc.

I was all wrapped up in Enduro-ing, and I forgot to mention the Brickhouse Racing Women’s Cyclocross Omnium that occurred while I was at Iron Mountain. Since its inception several weeks ago, some generous local sponsors stepped forward to throw in on the “hey, ladies, COME RACE!” prize money. I am extremely appreciative of their efforts and support.

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One Stop Plumbing, Heat, and Air

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It means the world to me to see people give their support to women’s cycling in Memphis.

Despite mine and many others’ best efforts to publicize and promote the competitions, no ladies from outside of Memphis came to race. Two local ladies- Laureen Coffelt and Lucia Colbert (respectively, in photos below) battled it out for the cash.

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In the end, it was Laureen who took home the dough (and yes, those are World Champ stripes on Lucia’s jersey. She’s an age group XTerra killer).

In extra-enduro news, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been charged with learning how to ride on flat pedals.

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Yesterday, I installed them on my Jet, donned some shinguards under my jeans, and took off for the park near my house. I began by practicing a few wheelies (er, short, sort-of wheelies), stoppies, rear wheel drifts, and baby manuals. I then moved on to applying the baby manual to a small set of stairs…

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…something I would not have attempted on flat pedals in the past. After a couple of shaky, slightly foot-slipping attempts, I was able to carry some nice speed and roll off in good form, landing both tires gently at the same time while keeping both feet firmly on the pedals. Small victories.

I’m still 100% unable to actually jump (versus manual-ing off). It’s frustrating to feel like I should have learned this 20 years ago instead of trying to learn now. Old dog, New tricks… the motor learning process isn’t as quick and pliable now as it is as a kid. I don’t mind posting my struggles here for all to see.

Matt (bless his heart) wrote it all out in math and geometry on the whiteboard in an attempt to explain the lift/push motion to me:

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Unfortunately, math and geometry, no matter how detailed and well thought-out they are, don’t translate to motor nerve signals being relayed to the proper muscles to create the movement. I want to show everyone out there that I’m not a 100% Wonderwoman who masters everything at the drop of a hat. This is going to be tough, but I know that if I get it, my technical riding skill will be elevated to another level. I’m never going to be too old to stop looking to improve myself.

Syllamo Adventure Time

This weekend didn’t go totally as planned. Originally, I thought I’d race the Crossroad Clash cyclocross race, but Sunday morning, I was there and ready, and no other women showed up. With the course markings being a bit vague and the course heavy on the barriers, I didn’t really feel motivated to race the dudes considering my current training priorities (more on that in a second). I’m reasonably certain that the double-up Memphis Velo/Outdoors Inc. Cyclocross races should be different as far as attendance since the Omnium Prize has now grown to $250 for the top lady of the weekend (P.S. If anyone else steps forward with a cash donation, there will be a second place award as well).

Instead, I changed clothes and headed off on a pretty intense run workout. If you haven’t followed along, I’m in the process of cramming for the LOViT Marathon on December 6th. I’m doing my best to strike a balance between training my ass off and not getting injured, and I’ve basically come up with my own training program that’s building up long run distance with a few speed/interval workouts sprinkled on top. Since I don’t have any natural rock in town, and Arkansas is heavy on rock, I’ve taken to running the overgrown/intermittently loose & deep gravel of the unfinished greenline that runs behind my house. Even though it’s flat, I feel like it’s pretty good for building up some lower leg strength and balance. This week, I’ll also be testing my legs at the Syllamo Trails with some running/hiking/trail work. I’m going to take this along as well… just in case.

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Speaking of Syllamo, after about a year of talking, planning, and paperwork, what started as a desperate email plea to IMBA for help rehabilitating the Syllamo Trails has grown in to this: Friends of the Syllamo Trail. This week, there’s a 6-person work crew (courtesy of the Walton Foundation) clearing the Bad Branch (red) trail, the longest of the trails in the system that’s also been the worst as far as overgrowth and deadfall. In addition to that, sometime after Christmas, there will be a crew of inmates coming from Calico Rock prison to continue the clearing and tread repair. Good things are happening out there, and I’m excited to see the system being slowly turned back into its former glory.

One thing I realized about making a trip over to do some foot-based training is that I can check out the Sylamore Creek Trail. It’s a foot traffic only trail, and, based on the small section I hiked a while back, you wouldn’t even want to attempt riding a mountain bike on it. It’s been a nice break from bike training so far, though I’m looking forward to getting this initial bit of conditioning over with so I can get slightly closer to the volume I’m used to.

Brickhouse Racing Women’s Cyclocross Omnium

EDIT #2: Today, (11/2), 901 Racing agreed to throw in another $100! The Omnium payout will now be $250 for first and $100 for second. 

EDIT: As of 12:30pm on 10/23, I’ve had three more people come forward to sponsor the omnium! The purse is now up to $250… so, if someone comes in and sweeps both days, she’s taking home $375! Huge thanks to Todd Mosley, Urban Fitness Kickboxing, and One Stop Plumbing, Heat, & Air! This is getting intense! 

There are not many things that keep me away from the Outdoors, Inc. Cyclocross race coming up on November 9th. Even more exciting about that weekend? Memphis Velo is holding its first annual race  Saturday afternoon (the 8th) at Shelby Farms. So, it’s a great opportunity for people to come from out of town, race twice in one weekend, and only have to pay for one night in a hotel (if you’re from out of town and need help figuring out a place to stay, shoot me an email: andrea at brickhouseracing dot com).

Fortunately/unfortunately, I will not be in town that weekend because, back at the Arkansas Enduro, I won a free entry into a two day DirtSmartMTB Clinic over in Arkansas, and it’s the same weekend.

I still want to support these races and encourage people to come to these races- especially women. So, Brickhouse Racing is sponsoring a “women’s omnium” prize of $50. You’ll be given points on both days based on your finish position, and whoever has the most points gets $50 in addition to whatever you win at the races themselves. Here’s the points layout:

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In the event of a tie, the winner will be the woman who placed the highest at the race on Sunday. Only ladies who race both days will qualify, so if no one shows up both days, the $50 stays in my pocket.

In other life news, I’m not going to Nite Nationals. My legs made the turnaround and are feeling great, however, I don’t have a crewperson to help out at the race or, much more importantly, for the 6 hour drive back home on Sunday. During the race, a crewperson is a luxury, but the drive home is potentially too much for me to execute safely after being awake all night (even if I were to catch a quick nap in the morning). So, that sucks a little. Instead, I’ll be at the Crossroads Clash CX put on by 901 Racing.

After that, marathon training officially starts.

Lula Lake Race Report

In the running for “biggest success of the weekend” could be my avoidance of this traffic jam on the way to Chattanooga. I checked the traffic map prior to leaving my acupuncture appointment in Spring Hill just south of Nashville and saw the backup starting near the I-24/I-59 junction close to Chattanooga. I checked again at a rest stop, saw it was worse, and figured out which back roads would route me around it.

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Chattanooga is like any “up & coming” city… gentrification abounds, and, while it whitewashes much of the cultural interest of an area, it does make for a cool and convenient place to stay downtown.

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I digress…

The Lula Lake Land Trust 5 Points 50 was (despite plenty of rain) a great race on an excellent course. I wasn’t quite recovered from the adventure race, so not only was I not firing on all cylinders from the gun, the ones I was firing on started to fail around mile 26. I swapped between 3rd/4th place for a while, finding that, while the woman I was racing for the podium spot could handily outclimb me, I was better at downhills and slippery/slide-y/technical stuff. The course really favored a strong climber, though, and I wasn’t able to fake my way ahead of her for the 2nd half of the course. I was in 4th for a while, and, while I was downing a Red Bull at the 38ish mile aid station, 5th caught up to me. She was ahead for a while, then the caffeine took hold, and I was able to pass her on a steep spot. I held her off through cramps and my building frustrations that none of the downhills seemed long or steep enough to justify using my dropper post, and ended up finishing in 4th place out of 13 ladies.

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It wasn’t terrible… I knew that a lack of recovery was a real possibility, and I was game enough to have a good time and enjoy a fun trail system.  If you want to hear more about the Lula Lake race, keep an eye on the Mountain Bike Radio Just Riding Along page. I interviewed the race winners as well as the people responsible for making such an excellent event.

Post-race road trip necessity for the drive home on Sunday:

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When I arrived back home, I spent the remainder of the day chilling out and occasionally assisting Matt in his ambitious weekend schedule of home improvement projects

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Ryan and I drank beer, sat in the garage, and spectated that portion of it.

The focus now is on recovery. I kicked the week off right by taking the dogs to the dog park. Marley likes to run the fence at full speed trying to catch squirrels, Indy wanders around the corners, and Turbo generally sticks by me. A good time was had by all.

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My current plan is to rest hard and try to be on top form for the 12 Hours of Nite Nationals race on the 25th. It’s going to be a close-to-gameday decision, though. My fitness prior to the adventure race was the best it’s been all season. However, it will take every bit of that fitness and then some to do well against the ladies that are going to show up at the race. So, if I don’t feel 100%, there are other things I’d rather do than flog myself in a sleep-deprived lap race.

Scratching the Itches

I keep getting this relentless itch. It happens every time I, for whatever reason, go out for a run or see one of my Facebook friends on some sort of trail running/ultramarathon adventure (especially local Billy Simpson- his post about Arkansas this morning is literally the thing that pushed me over the edge on this).

If you’ve been around since I started my blog, you might remember that my cycling addiction began when I was an avid trail runner (thanks to the Warthogs running group. If it weren’t for them, I probably would have never thrown a leg over a bike as an adult). I’ve run a handful of 50ks, trail marathons, and various other long-distance off road races. Running- especially trail running- is something I turn to when I need an off-season break but still want to stay very active. I thoroughly enjoyed all 5 runs I did in preparation for the USARA event (er, I probably should have done more than 5).

This fall, I’ve been unable to convince myself that I want to keep up with any sort of formal training that has to do with cyclocross. I’m missing most of the pretty small Memphis schedule of races (one race is the same day as the 12hr night nationals, and the other two are the same weekend as the Enduro clinic), and, with all of the late-season traveling I’ve done and still have ahead of me, I don’t feel like driving a metric crap-ton to race in Arkansas and Nashville. So, I’ve tentatively decided to do this: LoVit Trail Marathon at the beginning of December as a warm-up to this: Athens-Big Fork Trail Marathon in early January (I ran that one a long time ago, and it was, by far, the most challenging thing I’ve ever done on foot). Then, it will be back to my regularly scheduled regimen of bike training to get ready for the upcoming 2015 mountain bike season.

Not only do I feel the trail calling me, but my fear, anxiety, and growing dislike of riding on the road has really started to eat away at my soul. While I still plan on doing plenty of cycling during the time from the end of October (after Night Nationals) until the first week of January, focusing more on trail running through then will help me put off doing some the winter road miles I’m facing. And, yes… I’m serious when I say I’m going to wait to start marathon training until nearly the beginning of November for a marathon that’s on December 6th. Trust me… I’ve done this before. I have the base fitness- it’s just a matter of conditioning my body to take the impact of running in order to put that fitness to good use.

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USARA Nationals

Back around the beginning of August, I was contacted by JRA fan/listener Tony Misovski about racing with his team at the Adventure Race Nationals. I’ve dabbled in shorter races, and I enjoy the format and variety of adventure racing, so I jumped on the opportunity to take on a longer, more challenging event with a very experienced team (the Michigan Racing Addicts). The race was held in McHenry, Maryland, snuggled right up in the foothills of the Appalachians. The area is gorgeous (especially this time of year with the leaves nearly at peak color) as well as rugged.

I arrived at the Wisp ski resort (race home base) Thursday afternoon. While waiting on Tony and Mike to arrive so we could check in, I decided I’d thrown on my shoes and helmet and go for a spin to check out the bike path I’d seen on the way in to the resort. Somehow that ended up with riding to the top of the ski hill.

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Not long after that, the Michigan caravan arrived. After we said our hellos and whatnot, we found our way to registration and our hotel room, where I commenced to dumping all of my clothes out (two of everything) and wondering WTF I should bring with me for 30 hours that would include everything from sun and 70 degrees to rain and 60s dropping to the low 40s. The 7pm racer meeting gave me a slightly better idea of how the race would go as far as when and where we could access gear as well as the order and transportation mode of each stage.

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P.S. It was freezing in the race meeting room. Also, pinky out = classy as ufck.

Following the meeting, I’m pretty sure it took me a solid 2 hours to decide what clothes to take where and when and get stuff packed and organized in a way that would make it easy to grab and go in whatever fatigued and/or sleep deprived state I’d be in. The exciting part was that the entire day would kick off with a float down the whitewater course at the top of the ski hill. I’ve never even ridden in a boat on whitewater, so I was excited to see what would happen when I’d be taking it on with a helmet, life jacket, and a boogie board.

After a few hours’ sleep, we were out of bed and back down to the meeting area to receive maps, checkpoint coordinates, and final race instructions…

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Essentially, the two hours that elapsed from the time the maps came out until the 8am race start were the shortest two hours you could possibly imagine. Checkpoints are plotted first, then the route between checkpoints is planned, highlighted, and measured. In my head, I broke the race up into two parts. Part one would be the whitewater ride, bike orienteering #1, then paddling/orienteering/paddling. Part two was another bike section- much longer, and broken in half by a “score-o” orienteering on foot section that was much more difficult in both length and elevation than the first one (and performed mostly in the dark).

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It seemed like 10 minutes passed before we were lined up and ready to take off on foot up the ski hill to the whitewater area. Mike’s wife Angie was there with the camera wherever we’d go, so she got some great pictures…
(she told us “serious face” for this one)

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That was a hell of a hike to get us started… and the whitewater was pretty awesome. I don’t have pictures of myself in the water, but here’s my teammate, Mike, going in to the first rapid…

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That shit was no joke… it’d smack you in the face then hold you under water for a couple of seconds:

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We made excellent time on that section and found ourselves running back down the hill with some of the top teams. For the next stage, we hopped on our bikes, rode back up the ski hill access road, past the whitewater center, and into the nearby trail system. It was some awesome stuff- lots of rocks that reminded me of the trails in the Transylvania Epic.

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Looking at the map, you can see the start area is the green arrow. We ran to the whitewater center and back then rode to the checkpoints in the green area (with the exception of the checkpoints with the red x’s and the one labled “final,” which were final stage bonus points- more on that later).

Part 1

We had one mix up in our navigating somewhere in there and lost some time. It was very early in a long race, though, so we didn’t stress it too much and hustled back to the ski resort to start the paddling and orienteering stage. With that one, you had the option of going for all the paddling CPs first (two were waaaay out on the far end of the lake), then orienteering and going back to the transition area, or you could paddle to the orienteering area, clear it, then go get those two far-flung paddling CPs (or not).

Part 2

The headwind and associated rough water on the lake was rowdy. Two boats capsized in that section. Luckily, we made it to the orienteering area halfway down the lake without incident (though we’d taken on a lot of water from waves crashing over the front of the boat). I was very happy that I didn’t get seasick.

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The orienteering went mostly smooth. We did have one point that took a while to find because it was on a fairly flat, mostly featureless spur that was covered in thick ground cover. The combination of that along with the length of time it took us to get there with the initially bad conditions meant that we skipped going for the two other paddling CPs. While we were on land, the weather associated with the wind passed through, bringing us a little rain but also flat water and calm skies for the return trip. That’d be the last of the good weather we’d see for the remainder of the race.

When we arrived back at the transition to start what I labeled as “stage 2″ in the map above, a heavy, steady rain started. According to the weather forecast, it’d stick around for several hours, and the temperature would drop steadily from that point on. We changed in to some warmer clothes and hit the road.

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The next part was one of the few places that really sucked. We had to ride for what seemed like forever up the shoulder of highway 291. It was busy, getting dark, and pouring down rain. I was really happy when we finally made it to the back road that’d take us to the next cluster of checkpoints (they’re the ones at the top of the pic).

Part 3

It was gorgeous just before dark… the trees along the road were all yellow, and the road itself was covered in a layer of fallen yellow and red leaves.Then, it was dark, and we found ourselves on a long-ish road climb that someone had painted with words like “agony” and “suffering.” It wasn’t really that bad… I towed Mike up most of it until he had a flat tire and we stopped to fix it. At that point, we were almost at the turn off to go into the trail system where we’d find the next set of checkpoints.

Those went well. It was really late at night by then. I saw a porcupine and a flying squirrel. At first glance, I thought that the porcupine was a giant armadillo from Hell. I was feeling really fresh at that point and having an awesome time.

The next CPs to gather were the ones along the ridge in the middle of the map (the flags, not the boxes). I don’t really remember the exact order of how we found them, except that I know that somewhere between the two clusters of them, we missed a turn, then found it, then the guys decided that wasn’t it, and we went back down to where we’d come from, only to go back to the turn we’d found before. From passing where we should have turned until we were back on track, we probably lost a good hour of time and did a healthy chunk of extra climbing. We eventually found everything, though, and made it down to the next transition area for the “score-o” orienteering section.

The idea behind that type of orienteering is that there are a bunch of points to find (these weren’t given to us before the race- it was a separate map provided once we arrived at that transition area), and each one is assigned a point value according to how far away and difficult it is to get to. For the purposes of this race, they added up your points from what you found, and divided your score by ten (rounding up), and that’s how many checkpoints towards your race finish you’d receive. So, in our case, the point value of what we found was 74, so that gave us 8 checkpoints towards our finish. The most you could get from the score-o section was 10. It was, by far, the roughest terrain we covered. Everything felt straight up or straight down, and the rain had made the leaves, deadfall, and rocks treacherously slick. I fell down repeatedly.

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It was still dark, and we started by making the hardest push up and over a ridge for three high-value points. I vaguely remember following Tony’s green jacket and headlamp through the woods. A large portion of the “hiking” we did was straight up hills so steep that I was using my hands on the ground in front of me. As the sun came up, I was fading hard. My joints and toes hurt really bad, and I fell asleep while I was walking down the road. Luckily, I woke up as my knees buckled and I caught myself with a large stumble.
Mike and Tony did a very good job of calculating what time we needed to leave back for the last of the bike CPs and finish, and, based on that calculation, we collected a couple more nearly-vertical score-o points and hustled back to the TA to change and get on our bikes. Angie was there for more photos and encouragement.

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I’d packed my warmest riding tights and a long sleeve jersey, which ended up being the perfect choice, because I think it was in the 40s by then, and the wind was howling.

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Our next task was to collect the last 4 of the bike CPs (circled in green) on our way to the final transition area, where we’d have the option of either finishing, or going back out for the last few orienteering (on foot) points on and around the ski area.

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That was a hell of a ride back… if I had to take an educated guess, I’d say that the score-o transition area was probably the lowest point on course. We did a lot of climbing, and the headwind was relentless. Once we punched the three points in the area where we’d previously been during the canoe/orienteering stage, I put it in hammer mode. Tony’s stomach had turned on him a few hours earlier, so he was bonking. I paced the guys into the wind, then towed Tony the last few miles. We still passed several teams who were succumbing to the beatdown from the wind. Someone said something about hail. I never noticed.

We arrived back at the final transition area at 1:15pm. Looking at the map, the guys initially thought that we wouldn’t be able to go for any of the extra CPs (we had to finish by 2:00pm). However, another team who had already finished clued us in that one of the points was just a short hike halfway up and around the ski hill. We quickly grabbed our packs and turnt up the hustle…

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If you scroll all the way back up to the first zoomed-in map, you’ll see the point that I labeled as “final” (as well as the couple of others with red x’s that we didn’t have time to go for). We hiked up, punched it, then ran back down and hit the finish line at 1:40pm. We totaled 39 of 46 available checkpoints. Only three teams out of the 60 in attendance were able to clear the entire course. The effort landed us in 13th place in the coed team division and 15th out of all of the teams at the race (two masters teams finished ahead of us).

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Super solid work.

It was an awesome experience. Mike and Tony have this stuff nailed down… all I had to do was show up, do what I knew how to do, and listen to their direction for whatever I didn’t. Angie was an amazing support person as well. The highlight of the weekend was saying something in passing to her about pizza as we were hustling out to get the last checkpoint, and, once we were back, finished, and laying around not quite knowing what to do next, she walked in with two gigantic pizzas. I could have cried, but I was too busy stuffing my face with pizza.

Fun blog fact- a 30 hour adventure race yields a 4 hour marathon of blog reporting.

Also, based on my rough memory and trash count, I ate 8 packs of Gu Chomps, 3 Roctane Gels, 6 Salted Watermelon Gels, 1 Salted Caramel Gel, a bottle of double strength blueberry pomegranate Brew, 3 Pro Bars, 2 Snickers bars, 1 peanut butter sandwich, 1 Clif Bar, 2 Clif Turbo Shot Gels (100mg caffeine boost!), half a bag of honey mustard & onion pretzel bits, three cups of hot chocolate, and 5 mini Reece’s PB Cups.

Pisgah Stage Race- from the background

Ok, finally, now that I’m back home and about to re-pack for another adventure, I have a little time to post a few pics and stories from my week as a crew person at the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race. If you want to hear about the race itself, head over to the Just Riding Along Pisgah Special Report page on Mountain Bike Radio and listen to Matt’s daily stage reports as well as interviews with Todd, the race director, and some of the other racers.

The ideal way to go about racing a stage race is to show up, race half the day, eat immediately, then spend the remainder of the afternoon napping and laying around before going to the evening awards ceremony (universally at around 6pm for the races I’ve been to). My day basically went like this:

6am: wake up, make coffee, make breakfast, prep my own stuff to ride, pack a cooler with post-race drinks & snacks, do breakfast dishes (there wasn’t a dishwasher), pack the car, load the bikes. It sounds crazy until you’ve been there yourself, but eating breakfast during a stage race can be a really difficult task…

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8:15-ish (depending on start time/location, we left as early as 7:15): drive to start, unload bikes, drink more coffee, get Matt’s jacket, etc. from the start line. A couple of the days involved a remote start- racers met at the finish line and were shuttled in a bus out to the start location.

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9:00-ish: race started, prep my own stuff to ride, go out and ride part(s) of the day’s course.

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I pretty successfully managed to ride until about the time the first racers were crossing the finish line (Matt was consistently finishing around 10th-13th). That gave me enough time to change, snack, and stand around at the finish for a few minutes to get a photo (Ok, I cut it close once and was still in kit at the finish when he came through. That’d involved a flat tire of my own fault, though).

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After stage 1, I found local racer Jordan Salman with a bandaged up broken finger that put her out of the race. Sad day.

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1-2:00: somewhere in that time frame, we’d arrive back at the house. I’d put away the dry breakfast dishes and make lunch while Matt changed & showered. Then change/shower myself, eat, and have approximately 3 hours to do the afternoon chores: wash more dishes, unpack the cooler, wash/refill bottles, go to the laundromat, go grocery shopping, and generally pick up and re-organize stuff at the house so that nothing would be lost or misplaced.

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Matt usually laid around and napped, though by 4 or 5, he’d get kinda stir crazy and go wash his bike (and sometimes mine, too). I could have squeezed that in to my afternoon, but it’s not a terrible activity to do if you’re just wanting to get up and move around after laying down for a couple of hours. We’d also do the daily MBR stage report.
Most of the time, just before leaving for awards, I’d make Matt a giant smoothie with frozen fruit and Kefir.
5:45 Leave for the awards ceremony/happy hour at the Brevard Music Center. Stay there ’til 7:15 or 8, depending on whether or not we did any interviews for MBR and whether I had one glass of wine or two.

Interview pics…

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7:30ish (depending on when we left awards): back at the house- put away lunch dishes, make dinner, eat, clean dinner dishes, lube chains.

We also didn’t have wifi at the house aside from my phone. So, in order to put the MP3 files online to be posted on MBR, on the way home from awards, we had to park outside the laundromat and upload them using their wifi.

That made for finally getting to stop moving and lay in bed around 9:30-10pm.

Stage 5 was the exception to the “finish before Matt” rule. I hitched a ride with Todd, the race director, to the mid-point of the course. From there, I hammered up a 7-mile forest road climb to the top of the final enduro of the day/race. Up there, I hung out with the guys doing Enduro timing and handed out an entire bottle of whiskey in small Dixie cups to whichever racers wanted a shot (or 4).

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Listen to the post-race interviews in the MBR link above to find out why, exactly, those guys have “F@#K” on their jerseys… it’s pretty amazing.

Following stage 5, we stopped by Sycamore Cycles (local shop sponsoring the race) and hung out a little while. Chopper the dog is adorable…

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The awards ceremony for the week was a blast. It culminated into a pie-eating contest. When they made the call for contestants, Matt ran up and, of course, took his shirt off so “it wouldn’t get dirty”. Other guys started filtering their way up, and I instructed them to also take their shirts off. The ladies in the crowd were amused, and many phone photos/videos were taken.

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Kaysee Armstrong is all like, “no, I’m not looking…”

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Post-race pics:

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I’ve put a video of the pie eating as well as some other during-race action on my YouTube Channel.

Being a crew-person is absolutely exhausting but very rewarding. Matt had a great race- he followed my advice on pacing and eating, which allowed him to put his tech riding skill and fitness to good use throughout the whole week and come away with a 10th place finish in the open men’s category (results posted here). I’m looking forward to racing it myself in 2015.

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Arkansas Enduro Race Report

Yes, I’ve been riding/crew-personing in Pisgah for the past 3 days, and yes, I’m just going to post my Arkansas Enduro race report today.

As I mentioned in my last post, I abandoned my duties at the St. Jude 24 hour event around 8something in the morning. Back home, I changed, set an alarm, and climbed in to bed as quickly as I could so that I could achieve maximum nappage before hitting the road to Arkansas. I was in and out for almost an hour and a half, which, combined with a giant Americano from Starbucks was more than enough alertness to get me through the day (I’m starting to get the hang of the sleep deprivation thing).

I packed the car and made the 3+ hour drive to Arkadephia, checked in to my hotel, then made the short drive over to the Iron Mountain trail system to pre-ride the course. Between the course markings and the map they’d provided, it was super easy to find my way around, even though I don’t know the trail system very well (it’s where my first endurance race of the season was back in February). I found stages 1 and 2, then, before I headed out to stage 3, found my “little brother” Jonathan. We rode stage 3, then took a truck/shuttle back up the hill to stage 4…

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Stage 4 included a newly-created “tech” line, which was basically a flat, narrow pile of rocks with some dirt strategically added in to make it somewhat ride-able. Whether or not I could  ride through the rocks didn’t matter, because at the end of that was a ~3ft drop to a flat landing that fell away somewhat laterally to the right. I have a video of Jon and another guy riding it, but since I’m on iPhone wifi, I don’t want to upload it right now. Both of them made it through the rocks and off the drop, but wrecked upon impact with the ground. From what it looks like on the results page, 5 people rode it out of the 61-person field. Following that section, there was a large rock rollover, a flat spot, then a smaller rock rollover, rock garden, then the course turned right and, the way it was taped at the time, gave you the option of taking the left line- a double drop with a super skinny line through it, or the right line- a smoother, smaller single drop. I opted to hop on my bike following the large rock rollover, ride the smaller one, the rock garden, and the smoother right-side line. However, we found out the next morning at the pre-race meeting that the taping at the double drop had been moved by someone, and that the right side was now blocked. I hadn’t more than glanced at the left line because it seemed like a no-brainer to stay right. So, I didn’t know whether or not I’d even want to try it.

That night, following a bitchin’ catfish dinner, I engaged in my favorite road-trip pastime… laying in bed and watching COPS until I pass out. Given my lack of sleep, it didn’t take long.

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I slept in until around 7am, had lots of coffee and breakfast, checked out, then made my way to the trail. After the pre-race meeting, Everyone headed up to the start of stage 1. The way the timing worked was that rider number 1 went off at 10:00. Following him, each person went off in 1 minute intervals, in bib number order, with 2 minute gaps between fields. You have a pre-determined allowed transfer time between stages (allowed times were given to us at registration). So, if I started stage 1 at 10:45, according to the transfer times, I had until 11:05 to get to the start of stage 2. I found these transfer times to be very lenient, and, save the 45 minute wait for my first stage start time, ended up waiting around 10-15 minutes for my start at subsequent stages.

The wait for stage 1- lots of sitting around, making jokes about who looked the most “enduro,” and listening to dudes apologize to each other ahead of time for being to slow (lol):

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The dudes who only practice their downhill runs by using a shuttle might argue to the contrary- one guy made it to stage 3 with 1 minute to spare, and when I arrived at stage 4s start, there were several guys laying on the ground looking exhausted.

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Stage 1 was very pedal-y, and each of the stages following was less so. Aside from the one “tech” line in stage 4, anyone who can ride a basic trail would be capable of completing all of the stages on any cross country-style bike. I had 4 clean runs… maybe a little more conservative than what I’d consider ideal, but the loose/gravely turns psyched me out. I ended up winning each stage by approximately one minute, giving me the overall victory by about 4 minutes.

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What excited me equally as much as the ginormous payout was the prize I won in the raffle- a free spot in the upcoming DirtsmartMTB Enduro clinic. I’m super stoked (bro) to keep improving and sharpening my skill… maybe even learn how to be more confident leaving the ground as well as tackling the loose gravely stuff. According to Kent, the promoter, the series will expand to three races in 2015, and include an even larger payout in hopes of bringing in some speed from the farther reaches of the country. I’m stoked- I’d love to see the pro ladies who dominate out West come over and rip the trails in Arkansas. I really love the enduro format. It’s soooo laid back, and it really suits my strengths as a rider.